Thursday, August 30, 2007


(please click all photos to enlarge)

Which is it: The cry of “feed me, mama” heard from little birdlings? Or:

FEED ME, Seymour!” from Little Shop of Horrors?

That’s what I saw when these seed pods began to open. Do you know what plant they come from? No, really, do you? ‘Cos I don’t know the name of it. Can you guess what the plant looks like before the seed pods appear? That would be the flower stage. Mmm, you will have to go with my description, then, because surprisingly, I don’t have a photo of the large, pale pink flowers this plant produces. They are about as big as my hand, kind of floppy like an oversized petunia flower, but with a wider base and without a fluted shape. There may be some buds appearing on one of the plants, so I will report back at a later date, unless some very bright person reading this knows this plant. The plant itself stands about 4 feet high! Yes, true. The seed pods are about six inches across. Just kidding! They are only two inches across at the widest part of the largest pod. (Oops, this is an error--they are only about one inch across. I don't think they have shrunk that much.)

The plants have been standing like this for a few weeks now. I have left them because of their unique appearance, and to see what happens next. They don’t seem to be of interest to birds, so I am considering a harvest and planting seeds in a few places around the garden where the soil doesn’t seem to want anything besides crazygrass. We don’t know how it came about that these plants grew up in our garden, but they have come up three years running, in the same location.

When it rained recently, every single one of the seed pods closed up tight—even tighter than this one in the center. As the sun came out the following day, everything rapidly warmed and dried, and these opened up again, status quo ante.

Every time I look at these plants I think of the phrase, “Feed me.” From the parenting world, it recalls a book, “Feed Me, I’m Yours,” by Vicki Lansky, which I see at various book sales. It is highly recommended for its baby- and toddler food recipes and ideas. The book has been around a long time. I always thought that was a clever title.

I was musing over the command that it is: FEED ME! and the idea of being fed. People speak of being intellectually fed, spiritually fed, fed-up, fed food they like or dislike. Lots of us utilise the internet to visit and make friends. We learn of places and people that previously didn’t exist in our immediate vicinity. Are we being fed, or are we feeding ourselves? We are nurturing ourselves, reaching out to those sharing their gifts: words, images, music, knowledge; feeding our hearts and minds with the connections made across the miles. We are feeding others the offertory of our own talents. Complementary—oh, and complimentary--exchanges spring up as we offer each other support; express appreciation.

I enjoy this camaraderie and this community. I’m having a blast learning the ins and outs of operating this, my own small forum of mischief and magic. Now, before I think of another path to explore for a paragraph, here is a little of…which?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bean There

This photo, credit: ZAZ

(click on each photo to see the bigger picture)

We took a trip this summer. Went on holiday. Left the premises. We were on vacation. Took it on the road. Didn’t look back!

Guess where we went? Chicago. I had to go back to renew my non-accent and recall my dialect. And attend a conference, but I’m not talking about that right now. I’m talking about one of our favorite places to visit downtown. It’s a sculpture park, among other things, called Millennium Park.

See? It’s true!

It’s right downtown and across the street from the Chicago Art Institute.

This is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever seen, because of the many ways you can look at it, or see into it. You will understand in a moment. It is the Cloud Gate, commonly known as the Bean. I actually found us in this photo, in the reflection.

Cloud Gate-Bean

Cloud Gate is the creation of British artist Anish Kapoor. That’s not chrome, it’s made of highly polished stainless steel plates. Here is even
more information.

If you check the link, you will see that this sculpture park has not escaped the corporate naming syndrome. I was really really hoping, but was disappointed. I won’t name the corporation. The city we live in is rampant with the syndrome. At least the public schools and the library system aren’t named after some wealthy businessperson. Yet.

You have to walk inside the Bean. It is absolutely incredible. Look at all the configurations of each person’s reflection:

There we are, at the bottom. Can you see the wild distortions? How many times do you see us reflected?

Here’s a wider view. This time I used a flash. It makes it easier to track us.

We were able to make a family portrait. Does this make me look too… ?

I don’t know where those little things came from, but they would run away and then spring back to our side. We usually have all our things with us, but the eldest was off on a different adventure for the summer.

You can’t see Millennium Park in the photo, but it is on the right. We’re going around the southwest corner of the park, turning north onto Michigan Avenue from Monroe.

I believe we only went one block north to Madison and turned west.

This is the Wabash Avenue elevated train platform, the “el”. We turned left, or south, and drove under it, on Wabash.

Our trip this summer was tempered by the time involved with the conference. It was probably good for us, in a way, as we usually try to do too many things on each expedition northward. Still and all, it was disappointing that we were not able to stop to see our good friends on the way up or back. But wait--that, in itself, gives us new opportunity--time to plan the next journey!

The good news is we took lots of photos, snaps, pics, close-ups, prints, portraits, mugs, landscapes, clicks, shots, images... and there is much more to tell.

(Check this space often!)

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I thought I had chosen well. My intention had been to choose someone fearless, strong, yet wise, patient; someone indomitable. I thought I had chosen well. But then, I saw it. In his eyes. It flickered like a votive candle left at the bathroom window until the sides melted just enough for the wax to break through and trickle down and over the edge of the windowsill.

I saw, but didn’t believe. I kept my question short, my comment succinct. “Are you leaving? You can take them.” And there it was. That look. Like a cornered dog on the street. The eyes rolled back and off to the side, then tried to focus on me again, blinking rapidly. “Maybe you should go,” he said, walking into the next room. I stuttered, voicing my objection. “No…Wait! Yes, I will go,” I replied quickly. He turned back to me, his head snapping 'round. He realized what he had said. “No! You’ll take too long. You won’t come back.” He had a point. I wouldn’t. We were back where we started.

“Just go, take them, you’ll be fine.” I was becoming impatient. They were his kids, too, after all. There it was, that flicker of fear in his eyes; that look of bewilderment. He would have to take the boys with him to the store. How would he survive this time? He was tired, hungry! They were coming at him. “Make sure they are wearing clothes,” I reminded him. The stores have rules about that.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Them's Fightin' Words!

Who you callin' a Pansy?

This is a Tansy. And it looks a lot better today than it did just one short week ago, when, as everyone must remember, it was really dry. And hot. I originally planted the tansy because it was purported to keep ants away, which happened to show up uninvited from time to time. "Just plant it by your door" and that was supposed to do the trick. The ants just nodded and walked around it, harrumph. In the end, we used mint spray to get rid of the ants. I was just going to say, we should have planted mint--but we did! We had a lot of it for several years. And yep, it was around the back door. It even grew up between the brick steps. Gotta love that mint. It doesn't affect the ants the way tansy is SUPPOSED to. The mint finally got tired of the searing heat, and didn't come back this year. ::sigh::

This almost looks like the tansy is out in the wild. In a way, it is. It's growing in the garden next to the house. The "grass" is quite persistent and grows quickly, sending out runners. I think it's called "crabgrass" in other places I've lived. Anyhoo, I don't like tending to it, and so I don't, very often. I'm afraid I'm not a very avid gardener here, having had some spectacular failures. The crazygrass makes a nice green background for the tansy, don't you think?

Here's another longtime resident of my garden - twelve years old now, I think:



Poor dear, almost didn't make it, for the first time. And then, it rained. You can see the new growth. I am waiting to see if it will bloom for us now. Have you ever seen rosemary in bloom? Beautiful!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Catastrophe - Act 1

[Scene 1: Photo credit to ZAZ (T2)]

Oh, no! How could this happen?!!

Did the kittens make the washer barf them out with the laundry? It looks like the end of the road for these feline felons. And the room looked so nice before--a true CATastrophe.

This is how I found them earlier:

Time for a wash, kitties

I think they heard us talking about giving them another bath. It looks as though they decided on an alternative. Kind of extreme, if you ask me. I dunno, I had the impression they kind of enjoyed the last shampoo.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Caught in a Whirlwind

That would include activities going on around here; weather changes; thoughts... you name it.

We have gotten the three boys ready for school, which started up this week. T2 and T3 began Tuesday, T1 goes Wednesday. T3--First Day of School for this one, how exciting! He is quiet in new situations. I was very happy for him when he told me, holding up an awkward configuration of three fingers, how many new friends he made. T2 is enrolled in this particular school for the first time. He was worried about being new. He has made four new friends so far--all boys. T1 picked up his schedule, which is printed out in columns. Only one column is understandable--the subject title, thank goodness. This week is the first week for everyone--the parents have a meeting at T2/T3's school Thursday. Whew.

This past Saturday marked the beginning of the season for the choir in which I sing. We had a jumpstart all day rehearsal. What a great day...I had car keys and no passengers! Woo-hoo, I was out and about, in the pouring rain. Pouring!

Which brings me to the weather whirlwind--literally. As the television weatherheads are fond of saying, a lot of weather came our way Saturday and Sunday. Apparently, the tropical storm/hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico blew far enough north to create some weather (haha) for central Oklahoma. Storms ensued, and then it even formed an "eye" and did lots of damage. Sudden floods; at least 6 people died, some from being washed away in their cars; many areas without power, even yet Sunday evening. There were neighborhoods in our city without power that long, but we seemed to have been spared this time.

Here's what we found Sunday morning (click to enlarge all photos--although some look better at the smaller size--ahem!):

Tree damage

The branch fell down right on the spot the mister had parked his car overnight. Fortunately, he had to leave for work in the weeee hours of the morning. He said it was in the worst part of the storm, which would be hard to tell, in my opinion, since the worst part seemed to go on the entire night. Did I tell you it was absolutely pouring rain? It was the maple that dropped that branch. It's hard to tell--d'you see that other tree with the pinky red things all over it? It's hogging the limelight, making it look like it belongs with the trunk of the maple. Don't let it fool you.

You can see this dead branch in the above photo, also:

dead branch 1 dead branch 2

This dead branch is part of one that housed a woodpecker family a few years ago. The branch reminded me of a musical instrument. Because of its size, I thought bassoon, but something about it also made me think, flute. Maybe this is the type of flute that would produce those whispy, papery tones...

I'll bet you thought this was going to be all about plants, right? Just wait. Adding to our busy morning Sunday, our mama cat, Drea, (more of her story another day) decided to bring one of her kitties out of the closet:

Drea with one of her kittens

We couldn't tell exactly what she intended to do. She was very concerned about this kitty, but she would walk away from it to eat or drink, then run back when he cried loudly. Drea wanted to play a little, but then would be drawn to minister to her kitten. I thought it was funny she would walk away from him, leaving him all along in the middle of the floor. The walkway, really. On the other hand, since when does a cat care whether it's in the middle of a walkway?

Drea would pick up the kitty, move him a couple feet away, then sooth him. This kept up throughout our morning preparations to leave the house. It occurred to me perhaps she just needed a break--a babysitter, maybe?

Soleil checking out the baby kitty

This is Drea's female kitten from her previous litter. She doesn't quite know what to make of this little guy. The baby kitty is barely two weeks old, Soleil is four months old. I know, I know. Don't even ask how old Drea is! As I said, I will tell the CAT story another day. Did you notice the little guy's eyes are open?

I have another theory for Drea bringing out this kitten. You know how, in nature, the way things work is "perfect"? Everything happens as it should. A difficult concept for us humans, who are ready to "fix" anything that is "broken." Growing up on a farm, I saw this in reality, over and over again. Well, I thought perhaps this kitten might be particularly in need of tutoring. The mama cat would watch this kitten crawl away from her, and wait for him to find his way back. She would move him, walk away, then come back. This repeated several times. You see, this kitten looks exactly like one of its possible sires, which would be the mother's, errr, brother. So I thought, maybe... nature's Special Education program?

Okay, this is now just about as long as one of my emails, so I should get to the publishing part. Oh, one more survivor of the storm:

The Rose after the Storm

Ah, there we go. My eyes feel better now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Boys of Summer

splash pad

Yesterday we found a way to cool off: The splashpad. These so-called "spraygrounds" are a new phenomenon here, this year. (All photos enlarge, just click on them.)

This one is located where formerly stood the last wading pool in the city. The only pool with a maximum depth of 36 inches. Perfect for little kids. And mommies who can't swim. I was disappointed when I saw them plowing it under.

Splash sm - 1 Splash sm - 2

However, the wading pool had its undesirable traits: No Shade. Anywhere. Difficult to look forward to spending daytime hours in the hot sun with the wee ones, even in the water. Do you know how well kids enjoy reapplying sunblock? Thaaat's right.

There was an ugly little concrete building where you could risk germ exposure and change clothes in a tiny and stuffy room.
For some reason, they always had people sign in for the wading pool. There were a couple life guards. One would hide out inside at the sign-in desk. One time a friend of mine was approached by one of these young twits and actually told she couldn't breastfeed her baby there. Being an advanced branch of society, each state of the US is having to enact some sort of law "making it legal" to breastfeed in public. Or not illegal. Such nonsense!! (But that's a whole 'nother topic, for another time.) The news obviously hadn't gotten out to all the city employees that summer. I suppose with the splash pads the city won't need to employ as many life guards. So everybody wins.

Splash sm - 3: A messenger Splash sm - 4

Here comes a messenger! He's inviting me to join them, telling me how he got splashed. You can tell which children are mine - the guys most pale. Oooo, I just remembered I can say it is partly from the zinc oxide in the sunblock, yeah, that's right. Not only from hiding indoors from the heat. I did go in the water--after taking "just a few more" photos. Well, I took some in the water, too. Sorry, no photos of me this time (though you would be thanking me this time!). Heh.

Splash sm - 5 Splash sm - 6

I really enjoyed being there. We arrived just after 4 pm and stayed for about an hour. As you can see, there were fountains that sprayed really high, and some parents were carrying their smaller and more timid children into the water. It was lovely, like standing in the rain.

Splash sm - 7

I was a bit concerned about the creepy guy to the right with the camera. You can see him in the last 3 photos. He was taking pictures of the children at the "sprayground"! Who did he belong to? I did sort him out--you can see his child in one of the pics. Whew! Wouldn't want some stranger getting photos of my children.

splash pad - wheel

Here I took my life the camera's life into my hands to snap this one. I really wanted to show more the motion of the wheel. It's obviously spinning in the water. It is obvious, isn't it?

Is this going against the forces of nature?

the square drain - 2

I mean, is it natural for water to spiral in a circular fashion into a square drain? I was fascinated by the different patterns made by the droplets as the water flowed lightly, then with more strength as the water splashed from the various spots on the pad.

After about an hour, the concrete surface took its toll on its first victim. A scrape on the palm ensured much misery, and questions as to why, oh why do they make the ground surface of these places with rough concrete? Actually, that's a good question. See the pattern painted on the ground? The painted places are actually rougher than the plain concrete.

We retreated to the minivan to return to our street clothes. Yes, the one reason I like driving a minivan: you can change clothes in it, relatively out of sight of the general public. Oh, wait, that's the second reason--the first is being able to transport 5-6 people (usually children) safely in one vehicle.

Back home, after a break hiding out in the thrift store, searching for treasure.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First Things First

Now let us start the day. First, we make it, the coffee:
(click on each photo to see larger size)

First things first!

What do you see? Just for fun, how many things can you actually identify in this photo?

Ah, strong coffee in the morning. This coffee’s got legs. Now what do you see?

Coffee with legs

This isn’t all that easy—what do you see, and why is it there? I’m having trouble, and I took the photos! It’s easier after you’ve had some coffee.

Later in the morning, a pick-me-up. What do you see? A shameless plug for Caribou Coffee, a competitor of Starbucks’, that’s what. Why?

A little pick-me-up

Because when Mister Working Man and I started dating, in St. Paul, Minnesota, we would go to one of the first Caribou Coffee shops ever, which was right around the corner from where we lived. To clarify, we lived in the same building, not household, obviously, since we had just met! (Sorry, just a bit flustered there.) So, we have fond memories, and we look for Caribou Coffee when we travel to points north. It’s a company that started small and is now second to Starbucks in size, and different from Starbucks. Lots of changes since its beginning, but fond memories.

Okay, well I’m starting to come to the surface, so I’d best be organizing some squids over here. More from them--about them!--later.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Heat is Hot

(Edited to include description of photo #3--Now, how did that get left out?! Please excuse the interruption)
There has been lots of talk about the weather lately. Everywhere. It is a popular way to begin conversation; safe, innocuous, everyone can relate to it. It’s hot here. It gets very hot, progressively hotter all day, up to 5:00 pm CST. So say the weatherheads on television. “It was hot today, it reached 100 degrees (F) today, very hot, but nowhere near the record of 104 back in 19-whatever,” the fellow chuckles. He can chuckle, he’s inside where it’s cool.

This kind of weather makes me want to hide out. Inside. Try to keep cool without running up the electric bill. That would be okay if I lived alone. No one else would have to deal with the consequent lethargy and depression brought on by lack of vitamin A. But I have the squids, and they need to be out in the sun as much as I. Out in the sun, the air, to run around and get hot and sweaty and so worn out they don’t have the energy to pick on each other.

Today the squids will discover some amazing things. When I was out yesterday I saw this:

Blue bug

A little blue winged insect which was on the move. It was very quick, and I’m surprised I caught it here. It was going in and out of the holes in the earth, from which, I believe, the cicadas come out to change into their winged forms. Notice what the heat has done to the red dirt in our garden. It’s like that all over. Back in the days when I would actually water the garden, I would wait and wait for the water to fill the opening. The crevasse seemed so deep; it was as if the water was being sent to the centre of the earth. Finally, it would bubble to the surface, trickle over a few inches, and drop into another crack to begin again. Right, the chasms are vast and not connected! Near the end of a long, dry summer one is afraid to let the squids out to play without a lifeline or at least a cell phone.

I also saw this:

Blue feather

This feather is near one of the cicada holes.

Hot! It’s hot! One good thing is when you finish hanging laundry out on the line, you can go back to the beginning of the row and take it in, ‘cos it’s dry already. Don’t leave it out too long, it’ll bleach out from the sun. No kidding. Look what we found in our backyard—garden for those who say so:

A Visitor

It’s the TARDIS! You can imagine our surprise. No sign of The Doctor. He’s probably somewhere keeping cool, eh? And wow, did the intense sun do a number on the paint—a perfect example of what happens when you leave something out too long. I don’t know what that alien ship is doing there. Those are not alien beings in the background, however, they are a type of squash plant, which turned out to be actually tiny white pumpkins—but are those actually gourds? In any case, they are suffering, too.

It’s hot! Too hot! I have songs running through my head. In the heat of the summer now, I hear The Heat is On, apparently by Glenn Frey. I had to look it up to make sure I had the right one. My memory had a woman singing it, but I couldn’t find that; I found Glenn Frey. Perhaps he sounds a little like a woman when he sings?

I also hear the Cole Porter song, Too Darn Hot. He’s a genius; he wrote the words and music to this song, and manymanymany others. I finally found the best version I’ve heard in a while, by Judy Barnett. Try this:
She sings the original lyrics. This is one of many Cole Porter songs some found in need of “cleaning up” for the general population. Awwww, can you say “censorship”? In fact, even recent versions of this song have used the altered lyrics. Here is the original bridge:

According to the Kinsey report
ev'ry average man you know
much prefers to play his favorite sport
when the temperature is low
but when the thermometer goes way up
and the weather is sizzling hot
Mister Adam for his madam is not
cause it's too too
it's too darn hot, it's too darn hot
It's too too too too darn hot.

Ella Fitzgerald sings a version that has some subtle, some clever, yet definite changes:

'Cording to the Kinsey report
Every average man you know
Much prefers his lovey dovey to court
When the temperature is low.
But when the thermometer
goes way up
And the weather is sizzling hot
Mr. pants for romance is not
Cause it's too, too, too darn hot
It's too darn hot
It's too, too darn hot.

Second time:
According to the Kinsey report
Every average man you know
Much prefers his lovey dovey to court
When the temperature is low.
But when the thermometer goes way up
And the weather is sizzling hot
Mr. Gob, for his squab
A marine for his queen
A GI for his cutey pie is not
Cause it's too, too, too darn hot
It's too darn hot
It's too darn hot.

And of course, there are (other) verses – this was just the bridge. I found the lyrics in this form at Wikipedia, so they must be accurate! Right, well I do know they are, being so clever myself.

So that’s what I hear in my head. Another reason I can’t hear you when you speak to me. I see your lips moving, but all I hear is:

It’s too darn hot.
It’s too darn hot.
I’d like to sup with my baby tonight.
And play the pup with my baby tonight.
I’d like to sup with my baby tonight.
And play the pup with my baby tonight.
But I ain’t up to my baby tonight,
‘Cause it’s too darn hot.

It’s too darn hot.
It’s too darn hot.
I’d like to fool with my baby tonight
Break ev’ry rule with my baby tonight
I’d like to fool with my baby tonight
Break ev’ry rule with my baby tonight
But pillow, you’ll be my baby tonight
‘Cause it’s too darn hot.

(Cole Porter)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Scenario: Woman with hearing impairment in the shower. Water running; bathing; washing of the hair; much singing. Yes, singing! Woman has found it’s the best place for vocal exercises: warm, moist air, solitude, sound of shower dampens outside sounds. Although in this case, the type of hearing impairment causes the speaking and singing voice to be resonated in the head completely, filling the consciousness with only that sound, creating a serene rehearsal space.

I am this woman.

This is, indeed, a serene moment. The spouse and children have left the premises for a promised couple of hours. There will be no one within striking distance who needs anything right now. Ahhhhhhhhh… Let us pause here and feel that sense of peace that comes with this knowledge of being…just being alone in the house; like the quiet after a storm…

Okay, now start singing. Do the warm up, the light vocalizations as you lather the skin. Begin the intervals as you rinse out the first shampoo. Remember to breathe--deep breaths! Increase volume as you progress into the melodic exercises, modulating up by half-steps each time. Scrub in the second shampoo.


“We’re home, we’re home” ::knockknockknock:: on the open door as he repeats “WE’RE HOME!”

“AHHH!!! You scared the heck out of me!!!”

“I just wanted to let you know.”

Never mind that I ignored the water going cool a moment earlier. That would have been ::THEM:: using the kitchen faucet.

This happens at least three times a week; more often, when the eldest son is in house (much to his chagrin). Not the shower surprise—no, if that were the case, it would have to be planned—and hey, I was talking about my child, don’t be thinking like that, oh! Tsk, tsk…

The hearing impairment is due to a perforation of the eardrum which didn’t heal closed from a severe infection two years ago (It’s healed, just not closed). Result: Serious reduction in volume from outside sources, with lack of clarity as a result of loss of high tones, which would be the range in which we hear consonants. Very disappointing, to say the least!

Now you know why, when I’m in a room, concentrating on a task, or banging pots and assorted utensils around in the kitchen, or near a running faucet, or actually, when any other device or person who is making another sound at the time, I either jump when I turn around and see you six inches from my face, as the first realization of your presence (son #1 hates that), or can’t understand a word coming from your lips.

Have you ever spoken with your parents, who are much older than you, or elderly folks, or others likely to have some sort of hearing loss (teenagers? heh-heh T1), and then later have a conversation with them where it becomes clear they don’t know what you’re talking about, making you feel hurt because you think, surely, what you had to say is worth their remembering it! yet it is plain to see they haven’t--? I know you have. It could be that they didn’t understand what you said the first time ‘round.

This blogging stuff is wonderful—the above written notion just occurred to me as I wrote. I think it's a valid consideration. Now, I just need to figure out what’s up with the B-WHAT! syndrome (But—We Haven’t Addressed That!). ‘Cos I know the entire household couldn’t have the hearing loss they exhibit. That’s right, that’s how we speak at home, very formal. Well, that’s all I could think up in the moment. Maybe you in the audience would share your more clever anagrams for this affliction?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A First Look

I had an idea I would like to write something. It came from a realization that it's not only a desire of mine, but fast becoming an essential outlet of expression. That, and my ability to be wordy and redundant. Any lucky recipient of an email from yours truly can attest to this. Although, the end result is not so much verbose due to the inclusion of the inessential, as it is brimming with the exuberant reflexion from within the mind's eye. I like to play with words, rein in the redundancies, and here and now, share the results.

This is not my only avenue of creative expression. I also find my breath in music and visual arts. I look forward to this new-fangled electronic theater through which I may share, contribute, collaborate, trot out, ask for advice, learn something new, and have fun through it all.

What say we get to theartofit?