Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In the Sweet By and By...

I freely admit to being an odd sort. One of the things I tend to collect are quirky stories that catch my eye, the truth always being as strange, or stranger than, fiction, and often downright hysterical. I also peruse obituaries. Here are some interesting ways people have left this mortal coil......

(I'd better not print the real names, so I'll make them up...

Mima Fife O'Needy has 'gone dancing on the streets of gold' ...(where? I wanna go....)

Blakity Blackstrap was 'called home to eternal rest in his home' ...(not so good Blakity, I think I'll pass -- I'd be bored outta my mind spending eternity in my home, as much as I love it...)

Prescott Pevahouse was ushered out in 'a blazing chariot bound for Glory' that 'transfigured his soul..' .... (methinks Mr. Pevahouse was a touch wee dramatic in his former life....)

'The brief vapor that had been the essence of' Natalie Sodbusker 'evaporated into eternity' ... (no doubt she was a 'dear friend' of Mr. Pevahouse)

'The sweet song of life' of Buddo Brisket 'was hushed by the Angel of Silence' ....(Good grief? -sorry couldn't resist- Even in heaven they have hall monitors?!)

Ollie Ollie Oxenfree 'triumphantly walked the lonesome valley through which we must all someday sail'.....(okay, Ollie, but which is it - a walk or a sail?)

Then there are the usual, people 'earning their wings' (I thought my 'work' was behind me at this point..), being 'transfixing to eternity' or 'spiriting away on her ethereal chariot,' 'spirited away from her earthly tabernacle' or once again, have that angel of silence get into the act, as when it 'visited' Malcolm Bewelle and 'led him to eternal slumber.' This particular angel seems a mite bossy to me, so I hope I don't meet up with him...

And finally, this one I love for hedging her bets......
Francis Dinwoody McPoo: 'On approximately DATE/TIME, an Angel -- perhaps two-- came and carried our precious' McPoo 'to her heavenly home to join Jesus and her parents' .... I hope she wasn't busted out by them for some curfew. Sounds like it might have been iffy, seeing as how she needed two to accompany her...

Finally, my sharp little eyes fell upon a list of survivors the other day, and was delighted to read that one brother's first name was Twig, and a nephew was christened 'Branch.' Will he start an interesting family tree of his own one day?

Trick or Treat

On occasion we're fortunate enough to have media attention focused on the Sanctuary. Two local magazines, and a TV station, have run features on Excy and the 'wild ones.' Now a TV station wants to do a follow-up. The last time they were here was two years ago on Halloween. Because this is basically Excy's department, I planned to stay off to the side and watch the show as they taped. Because it was Halloween and my favorite holiday, I was wearing all-black, with a black widow crystal studded t-shirt. Honestly, compared to what I've worn in the past, this was most tame. The TV interviewer started making me nervous, trying to encourage me into the camera's view and to talk on camera as well. I kept edging away and ducking out of sight. When the program aired, to my mortification there I am, on camera, but thankfully only my back is repeatedly seen. Causing Excy and friends to refer to me as 'the mysterious woman in black.' This time, I still don't plan to be seen, but you can bet I won't be in costume.

Things That Go Bump In the Night....

Last night I kept hearing a new sound. I'm used to the hoot owls in the woods, and the scuffling and grunts, etc., from our nightly 'customers' at Amy's Cafe: the raccoons, skunks, occasional possums and fox on the terrace munching their nightly meal of dog food. I can tell when it's just the baby raccoons on the (metal) roof, where the mama coons deposit them so they can eat in peace, much like a mother dropping off her kid at daycare. But this noise was different. Even from the LR I could tell it was back in the master BR. Something was being repeatedly dropped onto the skylight over our bed. We have a custom rectangular skylight over our bed because I insisted I needed to see the sky over us. (It's turned out to be fun when the moon is full or when there is a meteor shower. It can be a little claustrophobic when it's blanketed by snow in the winter.)

Turned out to be a baby coon after all (they are around 3 months old right now, which is pretty late in the season for babies). He/she was playing with a hollowed-out nutshell, tossing it in the air, rolling it around the glass, and spitting it out of his mouth, just having a big time. Like any baby playing with a ball.

The raccoons love the smoothness of the skylight. Every night we lay in bed and watch Coon WWW. The wrestling match seen from below is hysterical. It drives my cats crazy that they can perch just under the skylight on the beam inches below and yet the coons don't notice. I've even shined a laser light at them -- oblivious to it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Poor Jay.........

Is anybody watching Jay Leno? Not me. But then, I didn't before. Not that I don't think he's an amusing, innocuous guy. If I were him, though, I'd be rather insulted NBC doesn't care much about his show, that they figure as long as they get the minimal rating numbers they'll still come out ahead over airing another more expensive to produce show, or yet another reality program. Then again, no doubt Mr. Leno has considered all this and could care less, too. He's got all the money, cars, and motorcycles a person could want, so he's laughing all the way to the bank.

I'm frankly afraid to watch after being traumatized by seeing one of his "jay walking" segments once. When young people failed to answer questions any 2nd grader knows and acted so unrepentantly pleased by their ignorance, it frightened the hell out of me and reminded me that these folks walk among us. The bubble over their heads might as well have been, 'Hey, at least I'm on TV!' (well, yeah, but you just embarrassed the s---t out of your parents and your former 2nd grade teacher is getting fired somewhere). When did stupidity become 'cool?' Fortunately, most of the folks I saw were young and fit, so I'm hoping these were the same brainiacs featured in the 'Girls Gone Wild' videos. I'm just saying...

Jessica's Dog

People magazine reported this week that Jessica Simpson's malti-poo, Daisy, was "snatched" by a coyote "in front of her own eyes." Wow. I'm guessing they weren't in downtown L.A at the time. Then, the blurb goes on to say that Jessica is desperately posting lost dog notices around town and 'tweeting' in an attempt to get her dog back. "Why would I stop searching? I'm a mom."

Say what? Double wow, Jess. Does she think the coyote is holding Daisy for ransom? Are the FBI being called in on a dognapping? Why have none of her friends* taken her by the hand and explained that chances are 99.99 percent that a tiny dog nabbed by a coyote isn't going to be considered much more than a chew toy and that day's hors d'oeuvre? By saying nothing they haven't exactly advanced the cause this girl/woman has a brain....I'm thinking Tony got off the hook.......

* having read past comments from her dad I think I can guess why he wouldn't be up to the task...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Egg and I

Every winter a local nonprofit holds a fundraiser called 'Eggshibition,' where artists and others interested in doing so decorate a gesso egg that is then entered into silent auction. The WOWs (see 'WOW' posting) have discussed entering an egg for a few years and last winter L. and I decided to go for it.

The theme in '08 was 'Eggs in the City.' Totally lame. Inspired, I guess, by the movie Sex and the City that was making a splash at the time. Since I'm obsessed with the movie Rear Window (one of the greatest Hitchcock movies ever -- If you have not seen it -- promise me you will rent it as soon as you finish reading this post and then report back to me about how much you loved it), I immediately decided that was what we'd do -- a diorama of our egg, "Jimmy" (Stewart) called "LB Jeffries, or Jeff" in the movie, who spent the entire film stuck in a wheelchair spying on his neighbors across the courtyard, who would be chicks living in egg carton 'condos.' L. and I brainstormed and the end result -- well, as you can see, the end result looks very much like a 5th grade project - but we had fun, anyway.

Most of the neighbor characters are represented. "Miss Torso," the ballerina, is the chick in the tutu, obviously. The "honeymooners" have the shade drawn. The villain, "Thorwald," is in the dark smoking a cigarette. Look closely and there is a curl of smoke coming from the 'cigarette.' (Important part of the movie). And so on...D. helped tremendously. Not being an experienced sewer (this is putting it kindly - I got a D in sewing, and was the only student who didn't have to 'model' their shirt), I messed up the dimensions and D. had to re-sew "Jimmy/Jeff's" pj's a second time. And she made the tutu. The chicken wire is to reflect the 'coop' mentality.

I'm thinking there were better executed eggs, but I bet no one had as much fun. And ours did have flair!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Julia's Potage Parmenfier

I hope ya'll have seen Julie & Julia, or you have it on your Netflix queue, or something. It is wonderful, though, apparently like the rest of the world, I'd have preferred to have it just be Meryl Streep as Julia and Stanley Tucci as her delightfully patient and supportive husband Paul. Which is ironic, considering the movie was inspired by the book made from Julie Powell's blog. (The book is a fun read, btw). Whatever. After sitting for two hours watching Julie and Julia make love to food (using LOTS of butter -- the secret ingredient to great food apparently), I couldn't wait to get home and grab my old french cooking classic of Child's, given to me by mom long ago and seldom touched.

If you are like me, well, I love to cook and bake, but spending hours on preparation is just not my thing. And frankly, a lot of Child's recipes were intimidating.

So I selected the simplest thing I could find for a cool evening's repast, and it was simple (operative word here) and also delicious. Nothing wrong with that! I share it here. I'd have taken a picture of it but Excy and I were rather intent on eating it before 'The Closer' came on.

(Serves 8)
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced (about two large)
1 lb. leeks, diced (trust me)
3-4 T. ( tablespoons) unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 T. heavy cream
2 to 4 T. minced chives and parsley

Simmer potatoes and leeks in salted water until soft (about 40 to 60 minutes). Puree' with an immersion blender*. Add butter in bits. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with the herbs. Serve with some crusty bread.

* You've gotta get an immersion blender. They rock, they are so much fun to use. Plus they have attachments that make them versatile and much easier to use than a hand mixer or large chopper. And take up far less room.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to Mayberry

When life gets to be too much -- usually when I'm going through a trying period of illness, surgery, and recovery -- and I find myself in a limbo where I can't get out and about or active, I find myself going back to the simple pleasure of watching The Andy Griffith Show. I have the entire DVD collection, and I like to watch them from the beginning and in consecutive seasons. It takes a week or more, depending on what else is going on.

Excy knows when he comes home and finds me stretched out on the chaise lounge watching the antics of Mayberry, Barney mugging, Andy dispensing fatherly advice to Opey, or the gang forcing down some of Aunt Bee's kerosine pickles, I'm working through a funk the best way I know how, and he walks gingerly.

There's something so comforting about going back to the small town where everyone's pressing concerns are usually harmless and often trivial, and no one is cruel or (knowingly) uncaring....where you know that sometime in those 30-minute episodes your throat will grow tight and your heart will swell, or you'll crack up at what a goob Gomer or Barney are. Cracking a smile or tearing up definitely helps one forget their own reality for awhile.

Viva Mayberry! Forever may it reign.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Now that I'm over the threshold of fifty (for the record, I turned 51 in August), I'm going to warn you younger girls of something I wish I had a heads-up on when I turned 40 and my hormones decided to go all wonky and one begins to experience the 'joys' of perimenopause (oh the ups! Oh the downs!). My body kicked in on this early and I am finally over all that mess (and by the way, LOVING it) -- so here's the 411, as they used to say: you will suddenly begin sprouting hair in the most inconvenient places possible. And, sadly, for a lot of you, it will thin in other areas. I now count myself fortunate for being as hairy as a gorilla all my life, b/c my full head of hair is still hanging in there, even though I see an inordinate amount of it going down the drain...

The first time I angled my neck a certain way to look in the magnifying mirror and spotted a long black 'witch' hair underneath my chin I shrieked so loudly my cats came running from the other side of the house. Now, years later, I pluck and go on. And believe me, I also check, every day. You must, sadly, be vigilant about 'detail inspection.' My SIL and I have a pact that if one of us ever lands in the hospital in a coma, the other will sneak in and pluck offending hairs as required. Oh, and about the thinning? It thins on the head and the v-jay-jay -- Samantha on 'Sex and the City' pretty much nailed it when she recoiled in horror at that dreaded discovery. I draw the line, however, at the hair dye. Particularly 'Bozo Red.'

As for the hair on my head? Well, you can see from my photo, I don't dye any hair at all, having quit in my late 40s. I love how soft and shiny it's become, and get tons of compliments. No one's gonna confuse me for being younger than I am. But I don't care. Being called a 'silver fox' is kinda fun.

My (REEL) Life

Watching classic movies, particularly ones from the so-called 'Golden Age of Hollywood,' has been a huge part of my life since I was five, sneaking down the hall into the LR to watch the late show and late-late show after the p's were in bed. Propped up on couch pillows, my nose inches from the screen so I could keep the sound down low so not to be discovered and forced back to bed, I fought to stay awake until I became so absorbed in the plot, the actors, and the action, that sleep finally eluded me. By the time I could read the TV Guide grid in the paper, I plotted out every movie that sounded like a 'must-see.'

In 1992 when we moved to AR I found TCM, and it's been my default channel ever since. It's the first one I check the programming on every day and the one I usually end up watching. In 1984 I bought Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, and circled in red every movie I've seen, making brief notes if something impressed me or I found myself disagreeing with his rating. Eventually my movie library has grown to encompass several shelves. I also mark movies I've not seen that I want to watch out for. It's a rare day anymore when there's a movie on I haven't seen.

I've watched every 'Screwball Comedy' ever listed (yes, there's an official list). More than once. And I've seen every one of the top 100 movies rated by AFI (American Film Institute), typically several times. I definitely could give the host of TCM Robert Osborne a run for his money. Most of his factoids I already know, and several additional facts I could chime in on about what's playing in that night's line-up. I'm the go-to person for remembering names of old stars, titles of movies, and the years they were made. I have been accused of cheating at 'Scene It' by having played it so many times. (For the record, I have played it all of three times). I don't have 'top 10' movies, I have top 10 genres of movies.

As much as I love TCM, my big quibble with the 'Essentials' viewing and guest programmers is everyone wants to pick the classics that meant something to them -- perfectly understandable sentiment -- but the same movies are seen so frequently that one movie can be viewed a dozen times.

I'm in the echelon of needing to get up early in the morning (which I don't -- yes, I know, we really do need TIVO) to watch movies I've seldom or have never seen before. Because days I can 'mark the book,' are occasions.

So, yes, I adore old movies and I can say I have learned from them. And I adore TCM for running them 'continuously, un-cut and commercial free, as they were meant to be.' As they (justly) like to promote.

Although I have too many movies to narrow them down to a top 10 list, I also have favorite directors, costumers, and make-up artists. As for directors, whenever you see these names, you'll know you're about to see a great film. So, in no particular order, keep an eye out for these American directors: Billy Wilder, John Ford, King Vidor, Alfred Hitchcock, William Wyler, George Cukor, Victor Fleming, Woody Allen, William Wellman, David Lean, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Charlie Chaplin among others.......I will save foreign directors for another post.

happy viewing.......and send me a comment, I will always talk movies!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two screws that need to be bolted -- to something

To the two people who managed to piss me off while I was out running errands the other day -- congratulations. It takes a while for me to get cheesed off, but you two did it, in spades.

#1: The woman who looks like a toothpick with bottle-blond hair and two olives stuck sideways (guess where) who parked her big a-- SUV in the only open handicapped space in front of the salon? You're quite something. No matter it was raining and I had to hike through the parking lot juggling my cane, an open umbrella, and a full bag to the salon. Though not a 'confronter,' I did cut daggers towards you, to which you shrugged, and addressing the receptionist said, "I just needed to dash in to buy a bottle of shampoo." Hey, I totally understand your immediate needs are FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the rest of the 'little people,' who actually need to park up close. If hiking in the driving rain and ruining my just-done hair so you can park for two minutes to run into the shop, thus saving you from exercising one more second than in the gym you were dressed for, can help you out in any way, it was MY pleasure. Bitch.

#2: The man who parked his BMW sideways across two handicapped lanes in front of the store later that same day? To you I say "Brilliant." I am in awe of your incivility. I had no idea anyone even has that much arrogance. It was worth parking a fourth of a mile away just to walk up behind you and stand in your shadow. And wait 10 minutes while you proceeded to focus on flirting with the salesperson, dismissing the line gathering behind you. I am so sorry the check-out girl was unimpressed with your preening and lame-o come-on lines. She clearly did not see your big a-- fancy car, even though you shook your keychain at her with the BMW logo attached several times. And it could only have been closer if you had crashed through the front window. I'm fairly certain the only reason you didn't was you didn't want to pay for new glass. Better luck to you next time. And if this happens again? Ignore the dripping woman doing the slow burn behind you. She's just envious of your car.

WOW---The Witches of Wye

This photo was taken in 2000 when I had the Halloween WOW. We are holding up needlepoint pillows I made for each of us.

Friday night I hosted the WOWs (Witches of Wye). I suppose in polite company we could call ourselves the Women of Wye, but we've never bothered -- maybe we've never fretted anybody would get the wrong impression -- maybe we've never been in polite company, ha.

I served a huge pot of ratatouille and penne pasta, and everyone brought a dish and bottles of wine. We had only six this month - a small group. We are all hardworking professionals (though two no longer work full time, our group altogether comprises of a lawyer, social workers, gardening expert and former nursery owner, school administrator, choir director, writer and editor, and computer guru), and by the end of a rough week we were ready to let our hair down and 'howl at the moon,' so six bottles of wine went quickly.

Our 'floor show' that night consisted of watching the small red fox and numerous raccoons I feed on the terrace every night all eat together. After dinner we watched a DVD from 1934 L. brought mainly to show us Sally Rand doing a Fan and Balloon 'dance.' After imbibing all that wine, the 'dance' was hysterical, and some of us attempted to mimic the routine. I'm sure you had to be there. I do envy the ball gowns and frequenting of Art Deco-ish nightclubs from that era, however.

The WOWs came into existance about 11 years ago or more. I didn't know anybody living up here and a mutual friend introduced me to L., who lives down the road on Wye. We bonded quickly. I remember confessing that as much as I loved the mountain, sometimes I felt out of place, and some of the people we'd run into seemed pretty backward. (Actually I said their eyes seemed pretty close together - I call it the Deliverance factor). I said they probably thought I was a witch or something, because of the way they stared at me when they drove by and saw me doing yoga out front or something equally odd to them. L. laughed and said her neighbors had actually called her a witch. They had cut trees down on her property and she had been out sprinkling herbs and praying in the woods, and had spotted them watching her.

We decided that maybe such a 'reputation' wouldn't be a bad thing after all. At least they'd be wary of us, and leave our property alone and not hunt on it. She introduced me to several like-minded friends who also lived on the Mt., and the WOWs were born.

We meet on the second Friday of the month. The evening has evolved through the years, but basically now the hostess makes an entree and everyone else brings appetizers, side dishes, and, of course, wine. Champagne on eventful occasions. We eat and drink very well.

These six- to -ten women have become the sisters and close women friends I've never had before. We support causes and fundraise for nonprofits and organizations. But mostly we support one another. Right now they are running a fundraiser to raise money for my kidney transplant. When another fell ill to breast cancer, we supported her however it was needed as well. We've lost our oldest member, who was in her 80s and ill from emphysema many years before she died, and another has health issues that preclude regular attendance. Time and circumstances affect us all, but our friendships remain.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Where are you now, John Lennon (or, Strange Days Indeed)

I watched a documentary on John Lennon last night. I knew it would make me sad. And it did.

The world needs John Lennon. His voice. His talent for making statements and music that galvanized people, brought minds together, bonded us with like ideals. It's what is sorely missing today. Lennon's courage to thumb his nose at authority figures and bluntly point out the ills of establishment seem to have no equal now.

If he were alive, he would be appalled at the state of affairs found in his beloved adopted country. He'd be busy working on behalf of those who are disadvantaged, voiceless, and unable to fight the gross lies and injustices escalated by the past administration. He'd be horrified by the Iraqi war and assualts on other countries and the ill-conceived misuse of a past government that masked an agenda of dominance under such guises as a 'war on terror' and 'the patriot act,' and he would have exposed them for the shams they were.

Now people are lambasting our new President, and have from the moment he took office. His new administration has been working hard to rise above the jeckling and fear-mongering that so many resort to. With little to expose, these loudmouthed pundits and their right-winged contemporaries resort to using the fear card to trump their message. They do not offer the respect someone in such high office deserves. I remember all to well the cat-calls of 'if you don't like President Bush you are welcome to live elsewhere.' They are not hearing such ugly comments themselves now by people who voted for change.

For those of us who worked and prayed for a change -- prayed for hope -- prayed for an intelligent, morally centered President to lead us through dangerous times created by the ill-deeds of predecessors, this is grave indeed.

Lennon would be a true light of love and peace in this unstable world. Sorely needed now even more than in the '70s when they tried so hard to shut him down.

Even though his voice was silenced by a deranged evil lunatic, his message remains clear to the living to carry forward. But he is sorely missed because it was like no other. Yes, there are those out there -- Bono for example, with the fire and conviction to bring forth change.

But the world misses the uniqueness of John Lennon. God bless him. Blessings to his family.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's Getting There......

Fall, finally! My favorite time of the year! If only it would quit raining (when did AR get a monsoon season?) so we could enjoy the different slant of the sun, the cooling of the day, the muskiness of the leaves....October is my very favorite month; September is just a prelude to things to come.......for October brings the smell of leaves burning and pumpkins to buy and carve and light, Halloween - my favorite holiday -- and even though we seldom go, the State fair and football games to follow. Not to mention the cooler weather offers an excuse to make the stick-to-your ribs one-pot dishes I love so much: chili, stew, soups, pot pies.....And I can finally get out and muck about in the yard again, something that is too miserable in the heat of an AR summer to enjoy......sigh.......if only fall lasted six months.........

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Written in the car waiting for 5 gallons of gas......

Thirty miles outside of town, late for the nephew's 17th birthday celebration, Sunday afternoon. The car sputters to a halt. Oh. My. Goddess. I haven't run out of gas since I was a freshman in college. Boy is it embarrassing.

If I had been driving, I would've noticed the gauge, but Excy is so tall, and the way the wheel is angled and the handicap knob is located, he seldom sees the dashboard on that side. I opted to be the passenger and to forgo my purse today. Thus, no cell. No phone numbers. Excy calls Triple A on his cell. I had told everybody we'd be late anyway from a prior engagement, so I opt not to call 411 and pay extra for looking up a cell number. But mostly I opted not to be the butt of jokes at my expense. I felt foolish enough.

My, we've certainly relied on Triple A this month, after years and years of membership and no activity. Let's hope they do better than 2 hours this time (see 'Indian Market' post). So far it's not impressive. The service they called for us is all the way downtown, and we are in the countryside 30 miles from the small town of Paron. He has no idea where we are but the main streets are easily recognizable. This is why we need On-Star, I sigh. We wile away the time catching up in conversation, playing 'hangman' (dork alert!), giggling over stupid drawings we make of each other....finally I begin writing my thoughts...

At least it's cool and windy, unlike the 100 degree weather we had outside of Abilene, TX the other week.

"I haven't run out of gas since college!" I complain. "Well, you have now," Excy points out.

Thank heavens I peed before we set out. But I'm really starting to regret that cup of coffee we stopped for at Coffee Beanery. With only a fourth of a kidney, I know most of the public stops in LR, and map my errands accordingly. There are no remote possibilities around here. And tall grass that promises lots and lots of chiggers and ticks.

By this time, four people had stopped by the road in TX to see if we had help coming or to offer water. No one here, yet. So much for Southern hospitality. Oh - finally. A hunter in a gimme cap. God bless, sir. A mom and her daughter. And -- yeah -- finally -- an hour and a half later, the deliverer of 5 gallons.

I wish I didn't feel so dumb, I explain. It happens more than you know, he replies. It happens to everyone.

'bye Patrick--I (heart) you

It's sad to learn of the death of a public figure. One who made an impression on you, but you can't pay your condolences to the family. It's weird to grieve this kind of death anyway, like you share him or her with the world and everybody has their sliver of impressions, and you aren't sure why it matters as much as it does, but the world seems a little bleaker than before.

Patrick S. was a movie star I admired for his talent, his range, his looks, obviously, and his grace -- off screen and on. To play tough guys and drag queens takes guts. To look cancer in the face and square off in real life takes courage. To play that particular drama out in public with pundits and paparazzo weighing in is almost unimaginable stress. He handled it with grace under pressure.

Dirty Dancing came out when I was newly divorced and convinced I'd be alone a long, long time. Feeling lost and wounded and loveless, I went alone into a dark movie theater and quickly grew absorbed in the drama of a misunderstood young man with a talent for dance and a life ahead of him that wasn't what he dreamed and longed for, and an impressionable teen whose sheltered life blasted apart during one summer of love and dance, revealing a life larger and more authentic than she realized. When the lights came up that afternoon I felt oddly stronger and more hopeful. It took a sweet and soapy little drama, but it helped jerk me back to the realization that life held endless possibility and you are the master of your destiny by the simple act of how you choose to act or react to events that unfold before you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Rant for Today (much needed and seldom voiced)

When I read or hear someone saying how having cancer is "a blessing" because of all they learned and how the experience has taught them how to reorder their priorities blahblahblah, I want to puke.

Cancer is so not a blessing.

In any way, shape, or form.

It's a big, fat, wet, pain in the ass.

Usually those characters had cancer, have lived through it, and have come out from walking though fire through a dark tunnel to the other side.

I speak only for myself, of course, but as one who has lived with VHL/cancer/chronic illness that has me slightly disabled for longer than I have lived as an able-bodied person, one who will always have cancer and will most likely die from it's complications, well, maybe I would feel more grateful if I had it and had lived through it and was over it, but that is not the case. So I don't feel all that magnanimous. And I say the hell with all that.

What I do find to be a blessing that I give thanks for every day are an absolutely incredible partner, and family and friends who are so supportive that even when they don't suspect it, they can make me feel my life is pretty damn wonderful.

One day I will blog about the VHL and surgeries and daily living with being disabled in an able-bodied world. But not today.

Today's a rant day.

...a friend in need.....

My dad just told me not to contradict a friend who said something I knew was wrong that I called her on. (One of the most galling know-it-alls I know, god love her). He told me #1: it wouldn't make a difference, and #2: she was a 'good friend' to me so I shouldn't correct her. He's probably right about #1 -- but #2? Seriously? I've managed to defy the cancer gods and reach the age of 51 but I shouldn't voice my opinion and point out fallacies because "she's a good friend?" That's all kinds of wrong.
Jeesus.....I guess that's why I started this blog. Bummer.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Indian Market

For some reason I have been unable to get to Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM, for the 18 years Excy and I have been together. So this August, when it looked like we would finally get the chance to go, we jumped at the opportunity. Before we could head to SFe, however, we had to take the big a-- horse trailer and drive to Austin to deliver a family heirloom to his eldest son, and go meet our new grand daughter. That was a pleasure.

Back on the road, we broke down 30 miles outside of Abilene. Gadzooks -- sounds just like a CW song. It felt worse. Sitting in a HOT truck for 2 hrs waiting for a tow, I had ample time to wonder just why every time we take a vacation (in itself rare, what with all the medical appts and issues we must meet, as well as all the animals we care for) we have such exceptionally bad luck.

The week before we leave on any vacation we have ever managed to take is always fraught with last minute emergencies and car mishaps, often to the point we consider not going, and the finale entails hurting myself, like breaking a toe or foot. Oh the joy. Feels like the Universe conspires to keep us from having any fun when a hospital visit isn't tacked onto the beginning or the end of a trip.

Having just pumped close to $2000 into a truck that only has 68,000 miles on it, we were understandably nonplussed to find we had a $460 problem, and that and the unexpected overnight stay flattened our Indian Market budget considerably.

But we got there. And it was amazing. We spent three hours looking around and only saw a fourth of it. We bought a seed pot (with a turtle design on it, which is perfect because I seem to accumulate turtle, lizard and frog fetishes) from an up- and coming potter from a prominent family of potters. More exciting for Excy, though, was running into Wes Studi.

I know 90% of you are now wondering who Wes Studi is. The 'bad' Indian in The Last of the Mohicans. The lead in Geronimo. Leaphorn in all the Tony Hillerman mysteries on PBS. Studi is Excy's favorite movie star, bar none. For a few years he has tried to contact him to be a celebrity spokesperson for the mustang sanctuary we run (see blog 'Introduction'). When I turned around in line for fry bread and saw Studi standing behind us I couldn't believe it. Excy gave him his card, apologized for being intrusive, and told him about the Sanctuary, and Studi was kind enough not to throw the card over his shoulder after Excy walked away. (I looked). Now if he'd just call..........Wes, are you out there? Your #1 fan is waiting.....

Monday, September 7, 2009

House guests

Now don't get me wrong. I don't hate house guests. It's just that I have a low tolerance for guests that come often enough that when I mention the visit, family and friends don't say, "What? Again?!" (Meaning, every five to six months). The ones who insist they'll be "no trouble" and then proceed to run you ragged as they protest they're "on vacation" when it is lightly suggested they might be capable of making their own coffee/sandwich/etc., or carry their dishes to the sink. (And no, we aren't talking about children here). What does that make me? Chief cook, maid, and bottle washer?

Recently we had the near-perfect house guest. I was so flattered. L. stayed only three nights. She insisted on paying for my gas for driving her back and forth to the airport and into town. She paid for our lunch and one dinner. She assisted willingly with chores around the house as we got ready for a dinner party to celebrate her visit with family and friends. She didn't monopolize the TV or CD. She made her own breakfasts each morning. She brought a thoughtful hostess gift (hey -- it definitely helps). She could entertain herself when required. She took naps. And when she left she took her dirty towels to the washing machine.

She'd have a perfect score if she had stripped the linens off the bed or had told me we needed more eggs and sour cream to replace what she used before I made my weekly grocery trip and then discovered we were out. (Living in the country means one can't just run down the road for resupply). Knowing L. though, she would've gladly done these things, too.

Contrast L. to another visitor I have in mind. One who unfortunately visits a little too often and brings a friend so upbeat I call her Eye-ore (no, not to her face). This woman made the immensely generous offer some years ago to help us out with the house and spread, having no dependents, after promising profusely that no, she didn't want to live with us, and no, she would not to be a bother. We had a few Come-to-Jesus discussions where she assured us she would never be intrusive and I made it clear nothing was worth feeling I had just signed a bargain with my soul that took away our privacy or our freedom. Complicating this equation are the numerous surgeries, recoveries, and periods and stresses of living with a chronic illness that rob me of the lifestyle and energy a "normal" person of middle age has.

Alas. It seems all due promises were forgotten about as soon as they were made. And we have found that illness and recovery are not valid excuses when this woman and her posse of choice want to visit.

A few suggestions to erstwhile house guests out there:

When visiting, when your hostess is in the middle of a complicated project, don't keep interrupting every 15 minutes with entreaties for home-made muffins (particularly just after eating breakfast), and most particularly after they have promised said-muffins once they finished whatever project they are engrossed with. And, once the muffins are made and you awake from your nap, don't sulk and turn up your nose at them and say that you "never eat between meals." It's just rude. And guess what else? It's odd.

When your hostess is napping don't go through her entire pantry and cabinets and make a list of everything you want to eat and present it to her. It's just odd.

Don't insist they turn off the classical music playing softly in the background because you play classical music and "it makes you think of work." It's just what, -- odd? Righto.

Don't insist on coming to visit the day after your host and hostess return from major surgery across the country and then complain when they don't entertain you. Certainly do not do this twice.

Don't badger them into driving three hours away to shop at a store because you know you'll get a discount there, and then once at the house complain that "the service is lousy" when your exhausted and hurting hostess collapses into bed, leaving you to heat up your own dinner or fix your own cocktail.

Don't ignore the food your hostess has stocked up on in anticipation of your arrival and insist on ordering "off the menu," declaring the need for a separate dish and then sit there to be waited on hand and foot......

Don't monopolize the sole TV and spread crumbs all over the couch and leave dirty dishes on the table.

In fact, don't come. Give your hostess some breathing space between visits -- ensuring that the smiles you see upon arrival will be genuine.


We live on a small mountain just outside of Little Rock. It was established by local Italians, and 'Little Italy' is just down the road. Wye is well known for it's annual daffodil festival each spring, where a 7-acre field of daffodils is open to visitors for photo ops. Our neighbors are keeping tradition by growing grapes and making wine and jams. (We are lucky beneficiaries of this).

In 2007 we decided to start a wild mustang sanctuary. It's called Wing Spur Wild Horses, Inc. Around 37,000 wild horses and burros are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) territories throughout ten western states. Their population exceeds land capacity by over 10,000 head. The BLM has a wild horse adoption program that places mustangs on reserves. Excy, my husband, adopted two mustangs in Colorado, and two years later a contact from BLM asked if we could rescue more that were then slated to a killer-buyer. We only have 38 open acres across the road, so we fenced it, put in a pond, and drove to Illinois to adopt two families that are now banded together as one herd. Three babies have been born over the years. The 'wild ones' are curious and a few will come up to visitors to check them out, but are skittish enough that a sharp noise or sudden movement can send them thundering across the hills, which is a beautiful sight to see. We prefer to keep them wild and not tamed -- to just let them 'be.' Watching them running is to witness a vestige of the true American West in action.

The Sanctuary is also home to a family of beaver who have built an awesome lodge on the bank of the pond, geese, heron, and all the attendant wildlife that call this part of the country 'home.' Once or twice a year we hold a picnic to help raise costs for covering feed and vet bills for the horses.