Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mornings with Franklin


Franklin is morally apposed to anyone sleeping once the sun has come up.  He watches as the sky brightens, then he shakes himself and gives himself a quick wash.  Morning ritual done, then he walks boldly up the bed and sits on my pillow, chewing my hair.  He knows this will wake me faster then just about anything.

I'm not at all sure that cats can digest the protean found in hair, but that doesn't affect him in the slightest.  His intent is to awaken me, not to dine.  I attempt to persuade him to stop, and sometimes he does.  I consider getting a haircut so the chewed-off hairs won't show.

When Franklin came to live with me, he was a rescued kitty.  His face was scarred and his ear had the tip cut off.  The rescuers told me he was about 8 years old.  I doubt they were correct because that was ten years ago and he still does not act like an old cat.  When they took him out of the carrier, he came out unafraid and confidently began exploring his new home.  There was no hesitancy nor fear.  He was simply matter-of-fact.  When He finished with the first room, he looked at me full in the face and came over to introduce himself.  Later, after the rescuer left, Franklin and I had a long talk, me petting him and he purring.  We were both pretty tired, so I lay down on hte couch and he took the spot under the rocking chair and we both napped.   When I woke, I looked around and saw him under the chair, sleeping peacefully.  I said his name softly (he came pre-named) and he woke.  At first he was disoriented, not sure where he was.  He looked around quickly but then his eyes met mine and he visably relaxed.  Then he chirruped my name in feline and came over to lick my face.  I knew then that we were meant to be together.

Before Franklin came to live with me, I had gone for almost three weeks without an animal in my life.  It was the longest three weeks ever and I knew I would not be able to last very long.  To this day I do not really understand how anyone could have possibly abandoned him, or any of the other 5 cats and 3 dogs that now make up our family.  I don't understand how someone could not see the shinning individuals that they are, their preferences, the delightful quirks in their personalities, the way they communicate, and most of all, despite what they have gone through at the hands of humans, how much trust they have.

We humans are not so forgiving and I am not sure that it is a good thing for them to forgive.  Yet over and over again, I have seen animals pull through rough times and forgive all that was done to them.

In the morning, after Franklin has awakened me, the two dogs that sleep on the bed crawl out from underneath the covers and shake themselves, straightening out their ears.   Then they flop back down on my legs or torso and go back to sleep.  The other 3 cats that also share the bed sometimes don't even flick an ear -- they just sleep on through.  But the youngest cat (Prescott) will wake up and come over to lie down on my chest.  She thinks it's funny to put her cold wet nose just under my chin on bare skin.  She buries her head in my neck and purrs.  She knows full well about the rule of never chastising a purring cat, so she stays there til she falls asleep.  Meantime, Franklin has curled up under my left armpit and Addams curls up under my right armpit.   They purr loudly in sterio and we lie in blissful gratitude for each other, watching the sky outside the window -- until my legs cramp and I have to move.

It's a lovely way to start the day.

Addams, with his come-hither look, inviting petting.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Paper Mandala   Approx 6" by 6"

Well, it's been an interesting week.  Because of my $$$ (or lack thereof), I need to have a roommate.  Three different people have called, made appointments to see the place and then never showed up.   Bummer.  Ah well.

So I am still looking, but something very exciting happened yesterday.  A dear friend took me to our local Art Association with some of my work.  They liked it and this morning they asked me to join.  That means I will have my art for sale at their gallery.  I am delighted.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, that sales will be good.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paper  Mandala   approx 6" by 6"

Today is a passive/aggressive kind of day.   Oh, it is beautiful outside.  The sun is shinning, the temp. is just about perfect and the birds are cheerfully pairing off.  But sadly, I am feeling quite grumpy.

I think I want to yell at someone.  No one in particular, just venting my frustrations.  I won't, of course, but I do feel like it.

Why am I grumpy? you ask.  Well, I have been disabled for over two years now and that means I have spent the better part of that time in bed, not able to get up to do much of anything.  The first year was scary and boring, very boring (and very scary).  The second year was better.  I got into the Zen of being 'in the Now'.  It was pretty cool.

But just now I am frustrated, because there are things that need to be done.  Housecleaning, for instance.   Getting my artwork together to take to a store to see if it can be sold.  Taking pictures of my work so it can be sold in my Etsy store.  But alas, I cannot do much of any of these things.  I am too exhausted and hurt too much to move.

So I am grumpy.

One on-line support group that I visit says that folks who become Chronically ill are addicted to who they used to be.  I imagine that the same is true for folks as they grow older, too.   In any case, it is certainly true for me.  I used to be highly self-sufficient.  I could do just about anything.  I made bookshelves and tables, even a box sofa.  I helped my then-husband plumb a house for water and put in all new electrical lines.  I could teach a roomful of kids and not turn a hair when they acted up.  I could preach and hold hundreds of people enthralled.  (I'm a very good storyteller)

But nowadays I just lie in my bed, lucky if I can do a little art.

The young orange cat comes over to me and lies down on my chest.  She is purring loudly and I can barely hear the birds outside.  She reminds me that there is one thing I can still do and no one can stop me.

I can still love.

I can still love, and so can most folks, no matter their situation.  And loving, learning to love is what it's all about, isn't it?

When I die, no one is going to remember that I could plumb a house, or wire it.  No one will care that I build enough bookshelves for over a million books.  Frankly, no one will care that I did art or sang songs.  But some few will remember that I soothed their fears and held then.  Some few will remember that I made them laugh.  And some will even remember that I accepted them for who they were, without reservation.

I honestly think the lesson I came here to learn this time is to learn how to love.  

My cat bursts into a fresh bout of purr and reminds me that I have the best teachers in the world:  He and all the others like her, my cats and dogs, my kids -- they teach me to love.  I am blessed and I would do well to remember that.

I don't know how the housework will get done.  I don't know how I will get my artwork together and looking professional.  It may not happen.  But still,  with all the animals that have been in my life, all the good people I have been fortunate to know,   I am blessed and I would do well to remember that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Paper Mandala

Paper Mandala  approx 6" by 6"

Nothing to say today, but thought I'd share a Mandala with you anyway.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Nicky died yesterday.  The police do not yet know if it was murder but they suspect it was.  Her sister and grandmother found the body.  Nicky's dog was guarding the body.   It's such a shame because Nicky was putting her life back together.  It looked like she had kicked her drug habit and she had enrolled to go back to collage.  She was talented, bright and resourceful.  Her dog refused to leave her side until the grandmother held her as the paramedics took away the body.  The dog is now with the grandmother who raised her, as is her sister.

Sadly, this story is all too common.  The waste of a human life, the potential lost, it grieves my heart.  

I know that too many of you, dear readers, have someone in your life who is caught up in drugs.  Some of you have lost dear ones.  And there is very little that we can do about it.   Love does not keep people safe, it only lets them know they are not alone unless they choose to be so.

I will hold Nicky in my heart and do what I can for her grandmother and sister.   If you pray, pray for them.  If you do not pray, hold them in your thoughts for a moment.

May Peace be with us all.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A PArtial List of Lists

A friend of mine recently mentioned that there will still a lot of things on her ‘Bucket List’.   You know, the list of things you want to do before you die.
It started me thinking.  Frankly, I have done most of the things I wanted to do. 
-     It would be nice to publish one of my books before I die, but it’s OK if it doesn’t happen.   (Three children’s books and one novel)
-     I’d like to work at an animal refuge of some sort, because I love being with animals and it would feel I had made a difference with my life. 
-     I’d like to teach a few more classes in:
       Reality-Based Self Esteem
       Exploring Meaning & Worth in your life
But that’s about it.  I’ve done most of what I wanted.

My friend’s comment, though, started me thinking about Lists.
I like lists.  There are all sorts of lists.  Letterman proves that.  And there some fun lists that from time to time some folks make up.  Usually the lists are something like:

-     10 greatest fears
-     10 greatest Joys
-     10 Favorite Books/movies/music/etc.
-     10 most influential people in my life

Those Lists are fun to do.  No right or wrong, although when shared, sometimes they are good for a laugh or two.  And it’s an interesting/fun  way of getting to know someone a little.

But then there are other lists, lists that make you think and re-evaluate.   Again, there is no right or wrong, just your personal opinion/experience.   The results of some of these lists would only be shared with  close and trusted friend.   
It should be noted that ‘10’ is an arbitrary number.  If need be, substitute the number “5” instead.

  Here are a few of the lists I think about and might fill out sometime:

-     10 Lessons I should have learned by now

-     10 Lessons I don’t want to learn

-     10 Events in History that I wish had not happened

-     10 Things I’m glad I failed at

-     10 Expectations of my family that I did not fulfill

-     10 Expectations of my family that I did fulfill

-     10 things I wish God would do

-     10 Good failures in History

Someday I may work on one or more of these lists and I may or may not share the results with you.  Or, I may share a different list with you, one that is not listed here.
In the meantime, I invite you to fill out one of these lists.  Or share a list of your own.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Falling Apart

Paper Mandala  5" by 5"

Just when I thought I had it all together, it all fell apart again.  I'm sure many of you can relate to that statement.  Right now I certainly can.   My world has crashed and burned.  All my carefully laid plans are wisps of smoke.  

Great philosophers tell us that you judge a person, not by how they act when things are going well, but by their actions when things are going wrong.  This is how you can tell if a person is enlightened.   It is also a time to grow and become stronger.

Oh, goody.  Now I have the opportunity to get stronger and to be more enlightened <--heavy on the sarcasm here.

When I am hurting, my first instinct is to curl up in a ball and whimper in a corner somewhere.  It doesn't do any good.  It has never solved the problem, but it's what I want to do.  

After a soothing bout of self-pity, my next move is often to feel anger. Resentments flare.  The anger is never rational, and frankly, it is often directed at God -- which does not do a lot of good.

Then, I pout.  

Then I become terribly afraid, because I cannot see a way out.

Then I calm down and try to see what can be done in the situation.

I wish I could claim the wisdom to be able to go through these stages and stay in the 'solution' stage, but alas, I bounce back and forth, to and fro among all the different feelings, in no particular order.

I am very inventive.  I come up with lots and lots of plans.  Very few of them are the slightest bit feasible, but at least I'm trying.  I do wish there was someplace I could go and ask "Is this a good choice?  What about that idea?"  Alas, I know of no crystal ball that will grant my wish.

So I search for wisdom.

Mandalas are supposed to help with prayer, healing and meditation.  I gaze at the Mandala at the beginning of this post and no wisdom comes forth.  No answers.  But after a while I do find it calming.  My eyes travel the paths in and out.  I don't feel comforted, exactly, but I do feel better.  Perhaps it is the colors.  Perhaps it is hypnotic in some way.  I don't know.

I do know that we all face trials and we all do what we can to cope with them.   I am praying for widom.  What do you pray for?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's a beautiful day today in my part of the world.  The birds are in full nesting mode and I suspect I will soon have a family nesting on the eve, right near my bedroom window.  I hope so.  I'd love to listen to them as they grow and it is a relatively safe place from my cats.

I've been thinking about what it means to have connections with others.  Most of my connections are on the internet.  I have one person from Italy whose artwork and words I really enjoy.  Another friend I have not met lives in Germany.  There are a number of good folks from Canada, Russia, Italy, South Africa, Australia, New Zeland, and from my own country as well.  This slight, tenuous web of friendship is multiplied over and over again, in millions of homes, in millions of hearts.  And although my web is small and fragile, millions of webs together become very strong.

I am hopeful, because of the internet.  As we reach out to one another more and more, we get to know each other better and it becomes more difficult to demonize each other.

 I note that a lot of countries (especially my own) are beginning to try to control the net.  I can understand why.  It is very powerful.  If I have friends in china, for instance, it becomes more difficult to see them as enemies.  Thus it becomes more difficult to persuade me to go to war with them.  I do not think it is coincidental that right now my country has the worst relations with countries where the internet is not common.  It is easier for the Powers that Be when the enemy is faceless and unknown.

Perhaps one road to world peace is that everyone, everywhere has access to the internet.

i believe knowing one another is the solution, not the problem.

May all of us live in Peace with one another.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Awards -- Blogs I have loved.

Two Blogs in one day!  Wow.  For me, a record.

Today I received this wonderful award from my blogger and artist friend
Black Pumpkin.
Thank you.  What a great idea!  To share with others the gems we have found..
This is a pay it forward award.
Here are the rules:
1) Thank you the blogger who gave it to you.
2) Award 15 of your favorite or recently discovered blogs and let them know you nominated them. They will then award their favorite blogs.
3) Share 7 interesting things that people may not already know about you.
Of course, I had a hard time choosing my 15 blogs. There are so many fine bloggers.  I'm sure I will forget some of my favorites, but I'll give it a try.

Here is my list -- in no particular order: 

Traci Bunkers: Welcome to My World
How to be Creative 
Love Life Back
Shelly Beauch

And now the 7 things you might not know about me:
  1.  I'm the only daughter of the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter in a family that hands things down through the female line (Like secret fudge receipees and stories)
  2.  I am an old movie buff (I like current movies too)
  3.  I adore trivia, especially movie or historical trivia
  4.  I have written three children's books (no, not published) &  3/4 of a novel about Isis
  5.  Most folks learn through pain (I certainly do), but I am trying to also learn through Joy.
  6.  I love public speaking (and I'm good at it too -- she said modestly)  After all, in my working life, I was a Preacher.
  7. As a licensed minister, I married over 70 couples before Prop 8 was passed.


Phoenix  (Applique)

I just finished reading a blog that talked about why she advocates NOT checking e-mail first thing in the morning. (Her blog is in my Inspirational blogs section, entitled: Welcome to my World")  She says she gets distracted and goes off in a completely different direction that she planned.

She says that rather, we should start the day doing Art.

Well, she is an artist, so she would say that.  So am I, so I can really relate to what she says, because I have found it to be true for me also.  But I strongly suspect that it is true for most folks.

It's important to do something that gives your life meaning (that's what Art does for me) first thing in the morning.  Give your life Meaning.  Then you can do the mundain things, like checking e-mail.  Even if it carries you off, you have still accomplished something, you have still made some meaning for the day.

I think I will try that.