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Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Holiday from Real Life

Update: Found out there's a hotspot in the campground so I brought the laptop just to be able to communicate with my daughter, who's due to arrive here this evening. Hi, blog friends, from lovely Big Sur, California!

It’s time to shut down the busy brain for a while. We’re off to Big Sur and the beautiful California coastal redwoods this week for an annual AA campout, where the only challenge is the hike to the restrooms at night. I always come back grateful to have a bathroom with toilet, tub, and hot water in my own room. At the campground, this is my own room:

We leave behind the challenges of maintaining hearth and home. This month has been especially taxing. A new computer required, thanks to the rogue sprinkler that watered my desk through the open window. Unexpected and costly automotive work on our 11-year-old pickup was another blow. I’m thankful we had a savings account. My head, as usual, wants to add a cranky “But” to that last statement, but I won’t let it.

Got almost no sleep last night, thanks to my head and its itty-bitty-shitty committee. So I’m punishing it by making it stand in the corner today. This is what it looks like:

Notice the condition of its nose. It has suffered from nosing around in places that are none of its business. In AA, we are reminded over and over again that our business is between our noses and the back of our heads. Everything from our nose outward is none of our business. When I try to exert control over the world Out There, I’m mucking about in someone else’s business without skill. My head likes to think it is skilled at that work, but I’ve noticed a total lack of success in that department and I suspect my head suffers from denial and delusion.

So, it’s off to the woods with us, without cell phone coverage, wi-fi, or any other distractions. We sleep in a tent and cook on a propane stove, and there are no schedules to keep, no bills to pay. Well, I can’t forecast the bills part. Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise….

And I got a big miracle sendoff: My dead watered computer rose from the dead!!!! The mail came as we were packing, and in it, my resurrected friend!!!! The tech guys, whilst doing the autopsy, found the corpse still breathing, patched it up and sent it home. Miracles happen!!!! I'm a happy camper! (And I had just got the new "puppy" trained.... Well, I guess our young housemate has got herself a computer, courtesy her grandfather and me. It was a happy moment all around.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Female Mystique

After a few days of wallowing in computer-induced depression (see below), I was given three gifts in the past three days: 1) I found a solution for configuring my email [perseverance pays off!); 2) I worked with an AA newcomer, which reminded me of the life-shifting grace of the program that is central to my existence; and 3) I gave the best poetry reading of my life. My own words seemed to be full of power that evening, judging by the exuberant response of the audience and the raves of my husband, a man-cave kind of guy. Afterward, I sat in the dark on my patio, glowing like a lightning bug, pouring out my gratitude to the God of my understanding, who transformed me from a suicidal drunk into a woman who inhabits her skin with joy.
(Commercial break: The following poem is based on the photo above, courtesy of Ainsley Allmark at Dolphin Visions. Visit Poetry Jam for other poems inspired by Allmark's photography.

The Sea Is a Woman

The sea is a woman who bears children
and then must feed them with what food
her kitchen holds, beans and onions
when times are hard, elaborate spreads
when the larder’s rich, and always after
scrubs the dishes.

Her governor, the moon, a bureaucrat,
ordains her tidal blood without concern
for inconvenience, but she’s resigned,
even sees the benefits, to child-rearing,
say, or affirmation of her womanhood,
in the ebb and flow.

It’s the tax man who exacts the heavy toll
of living, that hungry sun who sucks
her shekels, whose daily glare demands
his due. What comes in, soon goes out,
the nest egg evaporates, but she grimly
pays the price.

Ferociously she loves the land, her mate,
but he is forever leaving her behind.
In the moments when she has him near,
something in her surges, and fervently
she licks his skin, his neck, his thighs,
his earthy taste like honey on her tongue.
They kiss on the sand; she shatters
on the rocks of his imperturbable
soul. She takes the small gifts he offers
and savors them, rolling them around
in her mouth like unbreakable promises
that he will always, always return.

Who Gives a F*** about First Place?

A chorus of dahlias, none of which won first place in a competition.

Losing a competition doesn't make you a loser. I entered a poetry contest a while ago that required us to use as our first line a line from another poet's poem to create one of our own, and the results were announced this week. I didn't place. The winners were wonderful poems, and as I read them, I was thrilled by the quality of their work.

The world is full of music of all sorts, and at this point in life I don't feel the need to believe my preferences are the best. There's room in this world for a choir of voices, and it's the blended sound that is beautiful. The joy is in the variety.

So here is my contribution to the choir of poetry, inspired by someone else's first line, but sung in my own voice, in a tune that arises from the wealth of my own life.

A Savior Lies in the Desert

When I rose from my bed I was a watering hole for justice
and you were the desert of skulls encircling me
Twilight squatted on the juiceless ground like a blue dog
and you spoke
with a clattering of jaws from the skulls of the dead
lolling on the sand:
I thirst.

You embraced me, craving vindication,
all you who died a ghastly death
by negligence, design, fucked-up neurons, roadside bombs
I went to bed a woman with ordinary woes
but woke to find myself
your last resort
How do I atone for the bony hand that nothing filled
the demented crone who died alone, that lonely
bloody shoe?
You asked too much
of a simple seepage in the sand

All I had to offer was the trembling puddle of my empathy
But you begged
so I bestowed a kiss from my moist lips on every skull
that rolled to the brink of my pool and I called this

Monday, September 12, 2011

One Week After the Disaster

I seem to have misplaced my head.

It has been a week since my computer was destroyed by a rogue water sprinkler. There’s some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that my printer resurrected itself from the dead. I had the new one out of the packaging and ready to go, when something made me try the old one again. It must have dried out following its dance with the water sprinkler, because it worked again. Yeehaw! Back went the new printer into the box, happily returned to the store.

The bad news is that I’ve lost my email program, Outlook Express, along with everything that was in it. After many frustrating hours, I can’t seem to get the new Outlook email program to work, that is, to find my server, log on successfully, and so on. The hours I’ve spent on this endeavor have driven me into a dark depression. I’m forced to use a yahoo thingamajig which is annoying. I curse it. I curse many things. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.

The good news is that I managed to salvage my document and photo files. I’ve spent the past week working madly on magazine assignments and got them all done and submitted. This is a big deal, and worth celebrating, especially since the subject of one story had her husband go and die on her right before my copy deadline. This threw her whole story out of whack, not to mention what it did to her life. But with a little sympathy and rewriting, the story was written, approved, and submitted. So there’s cause for celebration. However, I’m stuck in the dark depression of the email fiasco, and that is all I can think about. I’ll have to work on that.

The bad news is that my office is still topsy-turvy, with everything moved and stacked and out of its usual place, letting the carpeting dry after its assault by the rogue sprinkler. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.

The good news is that I have a new computer. My documents and photos on now on its hard drive. This is a blessing, one worth celebrating, if I weren’t so busy being annoyed that it isn’t configured for me. There’s a special circle in hell for training computers to mind, to find their servers, to refrain from pop-ups that one doesn’t want, to behave the way you want them to behave in general. I hope when I die I don’t go there.

My old computer is finally on its way to get an autopsy at its manufacturer. I’m praying for it, as if it were a living person who is deathly ill. I would like to have it resurrected, along with my email program and all its contents. It seems like my life has gone on a strange diversion this past week. And in the hubbub of the past two days, as I worked around the strangeness to get my last three stories finished, I forgot to do my morning meditation, pray, and work on my gratitude journal. That has no doubt contributed to my sense of depression as the day has ended.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day. For now, I’ll go make a few entries in my gratitude journal and remember that every day above ground is a good day. May God’s blessings be with all of you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


My computer was DESTROYED Monday in a freak accident, along with the rest of my electronics, when my beloved husband set a hose-end sprinkler outside my office window and 20 minutes later discovered the hose had gone ROGUE and was VIGOROUSLY shooting into the window, watering my desk!!!! And a houseful of guests were about to arrive for a Labor Day barbecue and croquet game.

The resulting collision of water and electricity blew the circuit breaker and fried everything, including all the files relating to four stories I must turn in tomorrow to my magazine publisher. Everything is kaput...laptop, copier, scanner, printer, photo editing software...

But I'm blessed!!!! My hard drive survived, so the nice tech guy salvaged my files and they're somewhere inside this external hard drive if I can figure out how to extract them. I had accident insurance, so God knows when eventually I'll be reimbursed for my laptop. There's some money in savings to buy this here unconfigured cheap empty frustrating replacement computer and a new printer. I'm still married too (although I can't get my hubby to come out from under the bed where's he's been hiding since yesterday).

We had to scrap the croquet game yesterday, due to my driving need to get my computer to the tech store for a diagnostic, but we had a nice meal with our family anyway. I'm thankful to have a 12-Step program that keeps me from wigging out when crap happens. I didn't make anyone's life miserable yesterday or today, including my own. So blessings on your day, take a minute to back up your hard drive if you haven't done it in a while, and watch out for rogue sprinklers. I'm off to set up a new printer and wrestle me a grizzly or two...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Curious Guest, Revealed

It was pure serendipity that I found this creature tucked into the roses Saturday morning. It looked at first like a dry curled leaf, and I'm not sure why I moved in for a closer view. Picking dead leaves wasn't on my agenda; I was picking dahlias. I like to think that God was nudging me so I could enjoy His strange surprise. Last night I queried Google images and learned that my beautiful guest is a sphinx moth that goes by the name Eumorpha achemon.

The moth has a fighter jet's lines. I learned that sphinx moths are some of the fastest flying insects, and some can fly over 30 mph. The achemon has a wingspan of about 3.5 inches, about the width of my palm, and it flies at night. One website said it is rarely seen, which reinforced my sense of the serendipity of our meeting. Achemon feeds on nectar, especially petunias, which I don’t have. Maybe that's why it was gone this morning.

In Greek mythology, Achemon and his brother Basalas were a pair of mischief-making ancient spirits, who once stole the weapons of Heracles. He punished them by tying their feet to his club and slinging it over his shoulder, marching off with them hanging upside down, facing backwards. From that perspective, the brothers beheld the sight of Heracles' bare butt and burst into laughter, and when Heracles demanded to know what they were laughing at, he cracked up too and let them go.

I have no idea why the Achemon myth inspired the gentleman who named this moth in the 1700s. But the Poetry Jam requests a humorous poem this week, and the Achemon myth inspired this haiku:

Two mischief makers
spy Hercules’s godly ass:
Divine heroic crack-up.

I like to turn events like this into life lessons, so I remind myself: You never know what might cross your path today. Might be some little miracle tucked in there. Tunnel vision will blind you to it, so be observant!