Monday, March 31, 2008

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

One thing's for sure, Mother Nature can kick some butt! This is what we here in the Twin Cities woke up to after a full day of snow yesterday proving that tired old saw about March and its animal personae!

It is the ability to take a joke, not make one, that proves you have a sense of humor.
Max Eastman

In the spirit of this silly day, I found something fun to add to my life. I saw this on the talented GreenishLady's lovely blog, who got it from Ell at Pomegranate Tiger who got it from Joy's Updates, who got it from Chris who, in turn, got it from someone else.

It's called:
Answers in Pictures - an Experiment

Here's how it works:

1. Go to
2 . Answer the questions below
3. Type your answers into the Photobucket “search” box
4. Use only the first page of results to choose your picture
5. Insert the pictures and questions into your Blog

. . .then link back to me, et al. so we can see what you came up with. Remember, today is for having fun!

Who is your favourite band/artist?

Chicago's own WILCO

What is your favourite movie?
(only one?)

Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious

What kind of pet do you have?

Where do you live?

Where do you work?

What do you look like?

Yup! That's me.

What kind of car do you drive?

(Erica's Honda--just until June)

What is your favourite TV show?

it's a tie

What is your favourite candy?

Describe youself.

What is your name?

Sunday Scribblings: cinderblocks and sage

Nothing but sagebrush was scattered on either side of the dusty tracks leading to their cinderblock house backed up into the intersection of two barren hills. They owned no lawn, but around back there was a fenced garden of a darker hue than the silver sage. A gray Studebaker climbed the trail, then stopped at the door. Out tumbled a little girl in braids, a round white-haired woman wearing men’s boots and a stooped man in overalls. Leaving their front door open, two figures appeared in the soft glow of the dust, walking down to greet the travelers. The couple wore bright smiles on their weathered face as first she, then he roundly hugged each visitor.

Today that girl sits in a wheelchair outside the door to her room, the familiar aroma of lunch wafting around the corner from the rec room. It came to her sometime in the night: the names of the couple she remembered visiting in the sagebrush so long ago. His name was Tony and his whiskers always scratched her face. His voice was gravelly and she thought some of his words didn’t belong to her language. The woman, Annie, wore braids too and was very soft to hug. The older women had been best friends but lived nearly 50 miles from each other, past the reservation and into the Portneuf Gap.

Did she imagine that round wooden table and how she could stand up underneath it with room to spare? Eyes closed, she could hear the thunder rolling across the hills, see the sky darken and the pungent smell of rain falling on sagebrush. She knew for certain that on those occasions the four adults sat around that table, holding hands and talking softly to each other . . . and later to someone else. She was content to play under the table. If she did peek out she was shushed back under for ‘just a little while longer.’ Before the long ride home after supper, Annie gave her friend several larger rolls of paper tied with string. At home she watched as these were taped to the wall of the old woman’s bedroom. And since she slept on a small daybed in the corner of that same room, the little girl woke up each day to pastel drawings of multi-colored sunsets or sunrises always over the same broad expanse of valley with rolling hills behind. Sometimes birds flew across the drawings.

All of the characters playing in her memory were gone now. Even the cinderblock house had been razed leaving only the well pump visible. Once she visited her uncle, the Studebaker driver. She didn’t know this would be the last conversation she would have with him. They talked about marigolds, the chickens in the coops, and reminisced about the dogs that they had when she was small. Casually she asked if those had been séances at Annie’s house. Never a man to squander words he answered, ‘Noni, there are spirits of the dead who are having a hard time passing to the other side. We tried to help them.’

Written from a prompt at Sunday Scribblings. Read more 'out of this world' here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Break--part two

Rainy last day in D.C. and some doors in Georgetown. . . Erica and I visited the National Cathedral and spent the rainy afternoon in Georgetown. We ate soup and lemon Madeleines at one of Erica's favorite restaurants here aptly called le Madeleine. We got out of the rain, dried off and did a bit of people watching as well.

A few trees were in bloom on the Cathedral grounds: small magnolia, flowering crab and one or two early cherry trees. We visited the herb garden and greenhouse. Also there was a small thrift shop run by the Episcopal parish where I found a beautiful vintage Vera scarf and, of course, books.

Earlier in the week the three of us visited on the Mall at the new National Museum of the American Indian and the Hirshhorn Museum. I was particularly interested in the exhibit of handmade women's dresses called Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women's Dresses. It was an amazing collection that included very old and very new designs with most Nations represented, including the Shoshone-Bannock tribe from my part of Idaho.
Inside the Museum I caught the prism reflection from the rotunda's stained glass.

Facing the mall, there is a 'natural' waterfall that comes out of the Museum. In the distance in the taller tree you can see the Washington Monument in the distance.

So we were waiting in lines for our lunch in the restaurant within the museum that is laid out geographically to highlight different food by regions of the Americas. I passed up the frog legs but had wild rice & watercress salad from the great lakes Objibwa's; fry bread from the plains and west, and a black bean tamale from the south. At the register the check out person kept fiddling with her machine and it kept spitting out something that wasn't right. As the line behind me got longer, I told her it would be o.k. as it was and she said, 'I just want to make sure you get your discount.' The discount exists for members of the museum and for Native Americans. She didn't ask me if I had a membership and it occurred to me later that she though I was, in fact, an American Indian. . .because I have always resembled one. This all made me smile from ear to ear.

While Audrey was in the Hirshhorn book store I walked around the extensive sculpture garden that runs in a circle around the building. I was smitten by these bronze sculptures by

Juan Muñoz part of a series called Last Conversation Piece 1994-5. My kind of guys--tough yet light on their feet!

Washington, D.C., a city of questions and reminders . . .

Split by a tendril of revolt

stone cedes to blossom everywhere.
Muriel Rukeyser

and where Erica works and plays hard. Always willing to take life at its word, she will be in the Georgetown Medicine Class of 2010!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

when in doubt, look intelligent. . .

6only wishful thinking in Minnesota 6
So, right before my life got really stupid, and I went away for a week and then I lost my dear four-legged friend, I had been lovingly gifted with an award from two blogging buddies: Granny Smith and Inland Empire Girl.

Granny Smith was my first real visitor to my blog which appeared one year ago this week! She is a renaissance woman of the highest order and if we were broadcasting from Great Britain, she'd be Dame Phyllis. Hers is a life well-lived, chock full of experiences, and she continues to astound me with her eye for beauty, writing talent, kindness and élan.

Inland Empire Girl is multi-talented, kind, cooks better than Martha, gardens, takes marvelous photographs, her writing will knock your socks off, but most important of all, she's a fellow dog lover and Idahoan!

Many thanks for thinking of me when it came time to pass out the honors! Now comes the fun part--I pass this award on to:


Yolanda @ perfectly imperfect. . .I don't know, there's just something pure about her spirit, her photos and blog are uplifting and rewarding to read.

Tammy @ Queen Size Funny Bone. . .funny, fellow Italian with a great outlook and wonderful stories to tell.

Blue @ Behind Kyanite's Door. . .another lover of all things blue. Enough said.

That is what friendship means.

Sharing the prejudice of experience.

Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring break or bust!. . .or how I found some culture

Hard to believe that the spring break trip I'd been planning since February has come and gone. In spite of our best intentions, it is never a surprise when some drama interferes with our visit whenever we all get together. Usually it involves the hospital--an untimely flareup of Dave's cellulitis, somebody with a bad cold or me with an imagined heart attack. The exact manner of the drama always eludes us until later when we realize we've been had again! This much-anticipated trip included the last days of our dear Pashka on the earth, an event I kept at bay, at least in my mind, by subscribing to the Scarlett O'Hara school of denial: 'I'll just think about that tomorrow.'

'Enough already with the camera!'

More about the trip, however. Audrey and I met Erica in Washington, D.C. where Georgetown was on spring break. We had perfect weather--cool with bright blue skies, some sprinkling of early spring crocus and daffodils as well as the tentative first blush of the famed cherry blossoms. It only rained once, my last day. No need to explain that we ate our way around the city for 4 or 5 days, mostly ethnic choices like Afghan, Indian, Native American, French and really wonderful pizza. Deciding we needed to get our culture not just from yogurt, we visited the new Katzen Art Center on American University campus, Erica's alma mater. We saw an exhibit of Chicago Imagist Roger Brown's work from the late 1960's and a large showing of mixed media of southern artist William Christenberry. The Katzen is a full service venue: dance, art gallery/peformance art space, interesting design, and lots of windows.

William Christenberry 'Untitled', June 11, 2006

Roger Brown, 'Lake Effect,' 1980

Roy Lichtenstein 'Brushstroke' sculpture, Hirshhorn Museum

Ellsworth Kelly, Red White, 1961

Another day we visited the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn art museum. Audrey wanted to see an exhibit of current oil paintings by Brooklyn artist Amy Sillman. These were large, colorful (read: atomic orange, green, turquoise!) with a style that reminded me of Richard Diebenkorn. We also saw small Calder mobiles all in one room, seemingly suspended in air and real life Ellsworth Kelly.

P', 2007 by Amy Sillman

Next installment will include the Native American Museum where I got the 'discount' without even asking!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Be still, my heart!

I heard you call this morning
And I remember how your red epaulets
Quiver with each chorus.
You’re back!

Intrepid and weightless,
Eyes on the night
You’re like adult children returning from school.
Is this home or are you coming from home?

Overhead your wings push out a formation
Then land on dollops of ice and water--
The yin and yan of many lakes’
Spreading girth.

Remembering, I laugh out loud
And welcome the healing
In your clever industry
And your lusty song.

When thou seest an eagle,
thou seest a portion of genius;
lift up thy head!
William Blake

Friday, March 21, 2008

'Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really.'

Dave always wanted a Husky dog, having been conceived in Alaska himself. His chance came fifteen years ago this month when during spring break Erica convinced me that it wouldn't be 'that bad' to make a visit to the animal shelter in Chicago Heights. As usual with Erica I hoped she would give up and move on to the next idea that popped into her head; however, this time she was relentless in her opinion that we needed to replace Patches our beagle who had been hit by a car earlier in the month. That fateful day I choked back tears as we strolled past the kennels and came face to face with a skinny, black and white adolescent Siberian Husky who had been found dragging a leash near the Ford plant. The rest is history. On the way home with us, she sat, freshly bathed and trimmed, between Audrey and Erica in the back seat. Seconds later she laid her head on Erica's leg and sighed, a long deep sigh that she made on many occasions in the future. From that day on she followed me from room to room, wherever I was, always present and living just that moment. . .with me. Winter was her favorite time of year and summer her least. The first time I saw her eat snow I knew we were kindred spirits because I eat snow too.

This week while I was visiting Audrey and Erica in D.C. for spring break, Pashka's health took a turn for the worst. Already nearing 17 years, blind, deaf, fairly incontinent and wracked with arthritis in her spine, she finally had to be carried outside, set down and picked up again to be taken back into the house. Throughout all of this advancement into dog antiquity she maintained her sweet spirit, became super vigilant of other dogs approaching her apartment, loved being scratched behind her ears or given a belly rub which always resulted in her sticking her tongue out to kiss the hand that touched her. I said my goodbye's to her the night before I left for the airport--reminding her that she had been a truly faithful friend and companion and that I loved her with all my heart. While I was away, Dave reluctantly took her to the vet on Wednesday and stayed with her until he knew she was off and running. This was the dog who was never allowed off a leash because huskies have to run. I am pretty sure she is pulling a sled somewhere in deep, powdery snow, ears back, slitty eyed and smiling. She died on the last day of winter.

I miss her terribly and hope I will eventually stop looking for her around the house. Dogs leave so little behind in material possessions--their collar, leash, bed and a couple of dishes. I can't believe she is gone.

The first photo above is the last I took of her, a week or so ago, when she followed me into the living room and found a lovely spot of sun to dream in.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finally. . . Friday Flowers

New spring daffodils--Audrey's birth flower, barely pushing out of the thawing ground in Pocatello, Idaho on March 7, 1979, was born a Wednesday's child. Two weeks overdue she seemed reluctant to come out into the big world. I can't really say where the time in between went--except what a mother remembers--dolls, ballet, art, cello, Strawberry Shortcake, body surfing, boys, broken bones, and bike accidents. . . all adding up to a delightfully droll, generous, sensitive, tough young woman who can laugh at bloody movies and dissect Foucault or Burroughs just as easily. She and her Maine Coon cat, Squirrel, live in Chicago.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'H' for ABC Wednesday

Ever since I could remember anything, flowers have been like dear friends to me, comforters, inspirers, powers to uplift and to cheer. Celia Thaxter

Hollyhocks in Chicago gardens and paintings by Childe Hassam of poet Celia Thaxter's Maine garden.

See more 'h' photos here at Mrs Nesbitt's place.