Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Hard Day's Work

There is nothing better for the body
and the head and the soul and the spirit
like a good day of hard physical work.
Hallelujah! I give thanks for the good feeling
I have today.

We spent the weekend scrubbing and rubbing
and sweeping and mopping
and spiffin' up
in order to welcome the advent
of a cooler Florida.

Let us give thanks, my fellow Floridians.
You know how over the hot weather we are.
Only a Floridian can really get this.
We look forward to evenings in which
we might don a light wrap.

We give thanks to days in which
our t-shirts don't end up sticking to our backs
from just hauling the garbage can to the road.
We give thanks that instead of feeling we need three showers per day
we know that one will do.


Dan and I are into beautifying our porch.
It is time to open the whole back house and breath in the outdoor part of life.
It is now time to be out more than to be in.
I am keeping a mattress on the porch,
so that I can sleep out there with Patti and Maggy and lil' Bea.


We are currently installing
a thirty-two jet spa on the porch.
Dan has been changing out 110's to 220's
and digging up my garden- drats!
And I have been happy today because a hard day of work feels great.


All clean and shiny.

 An old screen door insert I found for two bucks. It was rusty and icky, so I spray painted it. Now it is happy again.

 Good-bye my lovely caladiums. See you next spring.



The park that just happens to be our backyard.



October, sweet, sweet October



Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Fair Lady Autumn Evening in 1990




The Silver Meteor from an old postcard I have
Click to see larger. It is worth it!





I remember a night,
an autumn night in a small southern town.
I am sitting on a blanket on the grass
listening to an orchestra
perform old show tunes.


Refrains from My Fair Lady fill this crisp
oh- so- welcome October evening air.
The cool night signals a respite
 from the hot and soggy days
of the long Florida summer.


Adjacent to the band shell 
are the  tracks
on which the Silver Meteor
still makes a daily run.
Now the sky is punctuated by a few early stars.


Suddenly loud rumbling accompanied by harsh light
drones out the orchestra.
The musicians continue to play.
But this train not the orchestra has taken command-
of us who wait on the ground in the dark.


 Bearing down hard and casting its thunder,
the train's high beams  catch us unaware
as though to mock our very reverie.
With a pounding hiss the train disappears into the night.
We take pause, and our attention returns to the music.


A few days later  my mother is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
That night I lie in bed beside my husband; I do not sleep.
 I recall the barreling train from the other night.
I wonder if I  rewrite the evening and leave the train part out
if I can make the news about Mom go away too.


Years pass, and losses mount.
I will come to understand that the train and the orchestra
move together in a rather exquisite harmony.
And I will learn that it is best to make peace
with trains that arrive in the night.


















Friday, October 5, 2012

When Trouble Comes a Callin'

When Trouble comes a callin',
We must do our proudest best
To tell it to mind its business.
And to remember that we are the ones
Who call the shots!

We should yell 
at the top of our lungs
"SCAT, SHOOSH, GET THEE GONE."
We will remind ourselves
That we have the strength 
to make it through.

We will believe in beauty.
We will believe in love.
We will believe in music, good books and high thoughts.
We will remember that things are always changing.
And we will take comfort in that thought.




One of my fave 50's gals.
"Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams"
Cogi Grant





The view from the bedroom. I have a park that we call a backyard- right in the city!




I play music most of the day.
Music is my drug of choice.
All she wants to do is dance.




And who in the hell said an older woman
can't wear long hair- Bah, me in "I kiss my cat on the mouth t-shirt".




Monday, October 1, 2012

My Friend Rheba



Last night I talked with Rheba
I have never met her.
We became friends over the phone.
She is eighty-four

I met her last April
when I was frightened about a health issue, and a friend suggested
that I call his Aunt Rheba in Tennessee.
That is how it started

I needed to talk to a woman
who was a lot older than me.
I needed someone to tell me
that everything would be all right.

And  in way she did.
Mainly, she talks, and I listen.
I have listened since that first time
to the story of her life.

When we started up our friendship,
she was living with her little dog Buffy.
She baked pies from her wheelchair,
 and a friend took her to Walmart once a week.

Rheba's condition declined
over the summer months.
One day she told me that she did not think 
she would be going to Walmart anymore.

By August she is in the hospital
She lives there for a few weeks.
Today she is in a nursing home.
She is happy that it does not smell.

A few months back she said that
if she had to give up her Buffy 
and move to a home it would kill her.
But it didn't.


She does not complain, but she does need
to talk.
Last night she asked me if all her talk scared me.
It doesn't. 

Her curiosity about what's coming next is what keeps her going.
She makes little jokes about her circumstances. 
Last night she said that it was kind of scary
not to have an older person to turn to.


I told her I understood.
But right now I have her.
And she has herself.
And maybe that's the most important thing.


At the end of each phone call she tells me she loves me.
I tell her me too.
She says she feels as though she has known me all of her life.
Sometimes friendship occurs in the most unexpected way.



Ilya Schor 1941




Amelin Albin

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mind is a Stray






The mind plays tricks.
Dirty dog, you mind of mine.
Shake your dirty self off elsewhere.
You covet Me, but I own Me.

mind, I will not dignify you.
mind, I will control you.
mind, I will switch you off
and turn on to the real world.









William Theophilus Brown

1972






Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Music, Rain and Jewels- Oh My!

Oh my, the day was a winner. I am truly and finally learning how to follow my bliss. And bliss to me means lots of things to accomplish but with no fast and hard deadline. Serendipity is my love.

Yesterday, I put in fourteen of the forty-three pale pink periwinkles I bought, and I was planning on putting in another fourteen this morning.

I lay in bed and listened to the soft September rain and felt so cozy under my snuggly blanket. I was happy for the rain for that meant today was an INSIDE HOME DAY. Love 'em. The periwinkles are on again for tomorrow.

 A couple cups of green tea later I was rarin' to go.  I am like a child in a hobby shop. I have so many projects I love that it is often a dizzy experience to decide which one to work on.

Today I played Jewelry Lady. I have literally thousands of pieces of jewelry to sell. I am organizing it by color and theme. Golly, am I having a ball.

I listened to my new playlist today while I worked. My furry girls paid me intermittent wrap-their bodies- 'round Mama's leg- visits every so often. Don't know what it is about me and cats, but my heart always does a little flip when one of my girls comes around.

I have set up a nice little work space in our storage room.

Here are some of my favorite tunes I sang along with as I shined, repaired, sorted and displayed my jewels:




This song is rather haunting in its raw truths. I guess the best way to keep on keeping on is for a woman to have experiences that are hers alone only. We all need our horse out in the country.





And golly what a great 80's song.  Who could help but to sing along?







This is a sexy song. No doubt about. Memories of a young, thin and tanned me dancing in her hip hugger jeans and halter top at one of the bars out on Nebraska Avenue. 1970's. I was ripe and wild.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Surrender

Surrender


And her walls came a tumblin' down
Tho she knew as they fell
That there was a reason.
But hell if she could find it  amidst
The Wreckage

In her favor was that she had lived a long time.
A long time enough to know that
getting hold of a perspective takes time.
A long time enough to know
that some things must simply be endured.

 Now that did not mean
that there weren't those
moments when she held onto her pain
and shook it  maniacally
like a coon dog shakes its prey.

With a trickle of trust in her gut
she made it through.
With that trickle of trust in her gut,
she was able to stay the pain
of her weeping heart.


That trickle of trust
grew larger and larger.
And one day she understood
That it was okay to let
 her identity
 go....


PCW





Woman in a Green Blouse
Ernst Kirchner
1913



Ernst Ludwig Kirchner was a German expressionist painter and printmaker and one of the founders of the artists group Die Brücke or "The Bridge", a key group leading to the foundation of Expressionism in 20th-century art.



Just for your enjoyment here are some of Kirchner's paintings. He was famous for his paintings of the street ladies of Berlin.











Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Day I Bared My Breast for Two Guys


May 22, 2012


A couple of Fellows stroll into the room in which I wait.
I wonder why guys
Thought the med onc was supposed to be female

The taller of the two asks my permission
to talk to me explaining that he
is shadowing the Real Doc.
  
"Sure thing, shoot-" I reply.
This is a teaching hospital after all.

The tall doctor is dark and sort of cute
in the way that smart guys who wear glasses
are.


After he asks many questions, he asks if he may examine me.
The Second Fellow just stands to the side.
He does not speak.
I nod and amble over to the patient chair which reminds me of  a throne- set up high and prominent like that.


Tall doctor taps my reflexes,
looks in my ears and eyes and
down my throat.

But I know what he is really after
my interesting breasts.

And then he ask if he may take a look.
Short doc just stares.


Oh, baby, the sudden allure of my saggy and scarred sixty-year-old breasts.



Oh what the hell, I think to myself
I pull up my shirt and bra
This won't be the first time I've done this for a fellow
but the first time for two at once!





The above incident calls to mind one of my favorite silly songs.
Enjoy Gloria Graham while she sings "I Caint Say No" from Oklahoma.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Matters of Consequence Be Damned




Perhaps a lesson of aging is accepting that we will not be able to do all of the things we once thought we would do. The world in which we live promotes a lifestyle in which people spin like dervishes, people are sucked  dry by days end  harboring a sick feeling that how they spent much of the day was not really important let alone fulfilling.

I can no longer do this; in fact, I refuse to do this. I have only so much time left. That is the fact of being sixty-one years of age.

I am learning the long lost art of convalescing. Any of you who have read Victorian novels know that after a period of stress or illness  the character always took what is often called a "rest cure". And I choose to make the rest of my life a rest cure as much as possible.

Yes, of course, there all all of the "have to do's", but I have a choice to redefine which of those really must be done.

My idea of a rest cure is to sit in my bed surrounded by my cats with my bedside table piled high with books and pens and paper.

Nothing makes me feel as satisfied as reading a well-written book. As a young girl, I knew this, and as I grew older I too often  forgot it.

I remember spending the whole week of a spring vacation lying in my bedroom reading Gone With the Wind. Mom had to peel me off the bed to come down for meals.

In college I would hole up in a remote corner of the university library to complete my goal of reading every single issue of Life magazine. I did it.


Here I offer an except from Antoine de Saint -Exupery 's The Little Prince.  The book is often thought to be a children's book but it is loaded with wisdom, and was actually written by the author as he was dying. I have never forgotten this particular passage:



"The fourth planet belonged to a businessman. This man was so much occupied that he did not even raise his head at the little prince's arrival."






"Good morning," the little prince said to him. "Your cigarette has gone out."
"Three and two make five. Five and seven make twelve. Twelve and three make fifteen. Good morning. Fifteen and seven make twenty-two. Twenty-two and six make twenty-eight. I haven't time to light it again. Twenty-six and five make thirty-one. Phew! Then that makes five-hundred-and-one million, six-hundred-twenty-two-thousand, seven-hundred-thirty-one."
"Five hundred million what?" asked the little prince.
"Eh? Are you still there? Five-hundred-and-one million--I can't stop . . . I have so much to do! I am concerned with matters of consequence. I don't amuse myself with balderdash. Two and five make seven . . ."
"Five-hundred-and-one million what?" repeated the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question once he had asked it.
The businessman raised his head.
"During the fifty-four years that I have inhabited this planet, I have been disturbed only three times. The first time was twenty-two years ago, when some giddy goose fell from goodness knows where. He made the most frightful noise that resounded all over the place, and I made four mistakes in my addition. The second time, eleven years ago, I was disturbed by an attack of rheumatism. I don't get enough exercise. I have no time for loafing. The third time--well, this is it! I was saying, then, five-hundred-and-one millions--"



I believe I have spent way too many an hour dealing with "matters of consequence", so now I intend to make up for lost time.


Speaking of books' I just finished Joan Didion's Blue Nights. I recommend it. She writes like no one else. Her last two books have dealt with personal grief. The Year of Magical Thinking  was a lyrical delight. I am now on a mission to reread all of her earlier works.




Books are my love. They are going to get the bulk of my attention from here on out.

Here are some books of fiction that I have really loved and admired.

1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
2. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4. Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine by Ann Hood
5. Hard Laughter by Anne Lamott
6. Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
7.The Hours by Michael Cunningham
8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
9. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
10. A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
11. Bastard Out of Caroline by Dorothy Allison
12. My Antonia by Willa Cather


These are just off the top of my head. I will add many more.






Saturday, September 8, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends







Something I have had to face in the past year is that I cannot do all of the things within a given day that I once did. No, I am NOT throwing in the towel, but I am learning to fine tune my energy output.

I guess one might say I got my comeuppance this past year with all of the broken bones and breast cancer.

I got a good old-fashioned dose of humility- not a bad thing really. It helped me understand even more than I am in this boat along with all of you, and I am no more special than anyone else.

You know that expression that goes "The mind is willing, but the flesh is weak"?
 God, I used to hate hearing older people say that. I would think to myself what weenies those people were.

I, Paula, the invincible will never fall prey to bodily trials. No, not this woman- uh, uh.

Here is another saying: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans."

Yup, the girl has had to really learn how to accept stuff, and I say, Sir, I will rise to the occasion.
I now take this on as my new challenge: how to still enjoy my life to the fullest without having it the way it has always been.

I worked hard to get my life to where it is. I am blessed with enough money, a good mind and too many dear friends to list.

I am resilient. Joan Borysenko, a physician and the author of many books recently spoke on the topic of resilience.

Here are the components:

1. You have to accept the situation.
2. You must have faith that you can deal with the situation.
3. You must find and use your sense of humor as much as possible. Thanks to my mother and my grandmother both my sister and I inherited a very dark sense of humor. We can laugh at the darkness even though tears may be pouring down our faces as we do.
4. You must be able to improvise. Being able to look at the situation analytically and break it down into smaller components helps me to keep on keeping on.
5. You must have friends. Oh, baby.


Borysenko also talks about what she calls "wise-selfish". That is taking yourself out of your own problems and helping someone who needs help too.

And I must end this post by honoring the love of my life- my own boy, Dan. He calls me his "girl".
 We have been together since 1981. We've stuck together through a lot. No, it has not been easy, but it has been good. It has been right.

He was my long-haired hippie artist/tech geek who wore old Birkenstocks that were ragged at the toe as though a dog had taken a big chew. We  back-packed through Europe for three months. We lived in a pop-up camper in the woods for over two years while we built our home on the bay. We nursed-up many a stray cat. We threw huge parties, and we danced our butts off.We were once so broke  we could not afford to go out for Halloween.



Halloween night somewhere around 1985

Dan and I are lying on our bed which is a mattress on the floor. We are in some serious financial straits.

There is a knock on the door behind which are a group of our friends. They have come to force us to dress up and go out to celebrate. I remember naysaying them, but they would not take no for an answer.

I live a blessed life.



The Girl and Her Boy
Manitou Island, July 2012

Friday, September 7, 2012

Coloring My Way to Happiness
























I had a conversation with a good friend of long duration this afternoon. She spoke of how often she finds herself feeling sad these days.

Sadness is not a comfortable feeling, and the longer one lives the more loss we will experience.

Writing often helps me, but one day it did not. One day I knew that no combination of words could assuage my blues.

That is why I color.

Colors are happy things. I use markers and acrylics. I am like a little kid who must choose among scrumptious desserts when it comes to choosing a color with which to begin . I want to use every color at once.

So in a way that is what I do. I just put color on paper until I get the urge to put another one on. Sometimes these colors turn into an actual picture, but more often they do not.

The point is to take an experience like sadness or anger or fear and transmute it into something else.
Something that  can be seen.  My coloring takes sadness and makes something pretty out of it.

When I was a little kid, I loved getting a brand new box of crayons. In 1958 Crayola came out with the silvers, the coppers and the golds and the bronzes. Ooh la la, what a happy little girl was I. All of my new crayons looked so lovely lined up straight in their box. Each one calling my name- "Use me. Use me".  So I did, and I do.






Thursday, September 6, 2012

Petula, Yard Sales and the Perfect Random Day




WARNING: THE KEEPER OF BLOGS warns that this entry is rawther long, dahlink



It has been awhile. Treatment has ended. My prognosis is good. I am getting my routine back after the year from hell.


Dear Reader,

Perhaps my blog may seem a bit self-indulgent. I make no apologies. I have earned the right to indulge.
I always wanted to be a star, but the problem is I like privacy too much. 
So here I am starring in my own way.



it seems I enjoy sorting and grouping and organizing; it relaxes me
i love to clean and make nice again a lovely old object that was once prized
by someone other than me

yard saleing and estate saleing and thift store saleing 
 never cease to make me happy

for me this activity is
soooo much more than what I might find

It is the ritual of the hunt that I love.

When I was working full time, a morning of yard sales had a way of breaking the previous week's spell.

Thirty-four years of school teaching was so stressful that I was BUZZING by Friday afternoon.

Thank heaven that a Salvation Army was located precisely in the middle of my daily three hour commute. If it had not been for that store and my iPod, I doubt I would have made it to retirement without becoming nothing but a puddle of mush.




a few of my fave finds




janis or jimi would've worn this
leather and fur hippie belt
sexy as hell
circa 1967-1972
















One midcentury day ago
Etta loved
her cat
like only another 
gal-cat-lover-of cats

can understand.

She fashioned a furry baby
and put her under
glass

Oh, kitty girl
how I want
to remove
the glass
that encases you
so that I may pet you.











today I am in my standard house outfit
oxford button down
shirt
(love guys in oxford shirts)
comfy loose slacks
and my new Merrells

only lipstick today

and my Dyson
honestly they are worth the money
especially if you have pets
my favorite part is the removable plastic
canister
good-bye to vacuum bag smell




loving this oil painting that I picked up for a song at an antique mall in Charlevoix, Michigan
it was the last time I was out with my beloved aunt who passed away over two years ago
we thought it might be Chicago
feels like 1960's
and reminds me of Petula Clark's "Downtown"

Mom took us there
during THE DIVORCE in 1964
We ate at the
"Top of the Rock"
and I had grilled pineapple
which was quite the thing
for a knee-socked girl 
from
The Midwest





my name is Lil' Bea
I am my Mama's bad girl

and I rearranged my jewelry box 
which is actually
an old
Bakelite 
silverware containers
that 
I found for
two bucks





 My lovely squash blossom from a Christmas in New Mexico
 Photo of my Great Aunt Ruth and my grandmother Pearl circa 1906
 My grandmother Pauline Sophia on her high school graduation.



Until later. 
Enjoy each moment.