Monday, December 29

Butch and Sundance, Beauty Supplies and a Bee

I wasn't sure if I should make this a contest or just launch into some holiday stories with a Texas twang, so if you'd like to try and connect the dots between the words in the title of this here blog, have fun. If not, read on my friends.

Butch and Sundance (part, the one)

It is said that holidays are all about tradition. If you do it more than once, is "it" considered a tradition? Well anyway, mom and I now have a new Christmas tradition, we attend a candlelight service on Christmas Eve at a little country church with a tall white steeple. I mention the steeple because it serves as a beacon when driving down a steep hill to the final turnoff onto the dirt road that leads to my momma's house. Since it's a 12+ hour drive from my front door to hers, that tall white steeple all lit up with a 1,000 watts of light and God's great glory is a sight for weary eyes in the dark of night.

The service is short, running about an hour start to finish. It starts with hugging as you come in the door, some singing, some preaching, a little more singing, the serving of communion (this year they used strips of pie crust for the unleavened bread) and then boom boom, out go the lights and we do the passing of the flame in a circle around the sanctuary and stand there looking angelic in the candle light for about 30 seconds and then with a collective huff and puff, out go the candles and we go home. All-in-all, a pretty low key service and one I can tolerate for the sake of tradition.

This is a people-only Christmas Eve service, so the two dogs stayed at home, the two dogs being Mocha and Jenny, my mom's 12 year old golden retriever. These dogs have known each other a decade, hung out, had fun and in general, never had a cross word or reason to squabble. They eat each others food, play with each others toys and love their mommas something fierce. As we pulled in, I noticed Mocha on the bed in the guest room barking her head off out the window. Bless her heart I thought to myself. Sound the alarm was more like it.

We must have forgotten to turn on the porch light before leaving for church because the front of the house was dark. No problem, mom directed the car lights on the front door while I hopped out and unlocked it. As I turned to give her a thumbs up and switch on the porch light, something in the middle of living room floor caught my eye. This little fella, who is usually perched on the back of the sofa was face down on the floor with it guts turned inside out:

Cute isn't he? Sitting there all happy and unsuspecting like. Yes, those are milk bones in his tummy and he has a shiny little zipper up the back, so it takes a creature with opposable thumbs to open him up and dole out the goodies, or so we thought.

Mom was coming up fast behind me so I turned around and said the first thing that came to mind, "Uh oh!" "What?", she asked. "I think we may have had a fatality in the living room, but not in a messy, bad way.", I quipped. "What are you talking about, get inside it's cold out here!", she urged. So I slowly opened the door to reveal the carnage. There lay Mr. Snowman, face down on the shrimp pink carpet, his zipper undone from cranium to crack and not a milk bone to be seen, only tell-tale crumbs on the sofa cushions and floor. And there, sitting next to each other looking nonchalant was a chocolate dog and a blonde dog looking us square in the eye and smirking...yes, smirking.

I picked up the victim and let out an "Ick!" Mr. Snowman was saturated in dog slobber. I held it in mid air by the fuzzy ball on the top of its hat and waved it in front of the dogs asking, "What happened here?" Mocha licked her chops! Jenny cast her doe brown eyes downward in shame, locking her gaze on her front paws. It was obvious these two were now partners in crime, thick as thieves and guilty as two sisters sneaking in the bedroom window after curfew.

As mom and I inspected the damage, we surmised that while we had spent the better part of an hour listening to stories about the baby Jesus, these two dogs had spent their time figuring out how to unzip a zipper.

I don't know about you, but I suspect if left alone with the blueprints to the local bank and the keys to the car, we'd have ourselves a little Christmas Eve bank robbery and two dogs making a run for the border.

Beauty Supplies (part, the two)

It's been my observation that Southern women have a talent for wielding words like a scalpel in the hand of a brain surgeon, cutting you to the quick before you even know you've been prepped for surgery. If you are ever in the company of Southern women, you might want to lean forward a bit and listen carefully. Done well, it truly is an art and I do believe my momma has a blue ribbon tucked away in a scrapbook somewhere for her talents in this arena.

Case and point...We're sitting at the breakfast table the morning after I've driven 12+ hours to spend Christmas with her. This is the day we will "go into town" to do some last minute Christmas shopping and errand running. She's made a nice breakfast and I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee when she asks, "Do you need any beauty supplies?"

I look at her through the steam rising from my coffee cup and don't say a word. She giggles and says, "That didn't sound very good did it?"

"No mother, I don't need any beauty supplies, but thanks for asking.", I say in a low, even tone.

Mothers and daughters. When expectation meets reality over breakfast, it's best to keep the sharp knives in the drawer.

A Bee (part, the three)

Mocha has a talent for catching flies. Like R. M. Renfield, she relishes them as a snack.

We awoke very early Christmas Eve morning, so early we were the first ones up. Miss Mocha and I needed some exercise so I threw on the hiking boots and off we went for a walk around the fishing camp. Energized when we returned and offended by the layers of dog hair, discarded diet coke bottles and potato chip bags in my car, I decided to launch an all out attack. Miss Mocha hung out with me while I dove in with a shop vac, roll of paper towels, windex and a large garbage bag. She supervised from a safe distance and three hours later, the inside of the car was clean.

All that supervising must have worn Miss Mocha out. As I made a bee line for the shower, she headed for the sofa and a well-deserved nap. Emerging clean and ravenous, it was time for a hearty lunch of chicken and dumplings followed by a nap of my own. As the brown one and I settled into the "Princess and the Pea" bed in the guest room I went to kiss her on her pointed little head and realized the entire right side of her face was swollen like Rocky Balboa.

I gently and carefully inspected her mouth, head, ears and came to the conclusion she'd mistaken a bee for a fly and would up with a smack instead of a snack. Bless her heart she looked so pitiful. A dose of Benadryl and a long nap with the momma seemed to do the trick and no, I did not take a picture of her state of vulnerability for the entire Blogosphere to ogle.

Mothers and daughters. Her dignity is safe with me.

Saturday, December 27

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Pronounced "nack-uh-tish", this wholly Southern Louisiana town is a walking, people-watching, dining, shopping experience Mom and I indulged in a few days after Christmas. Die hard movie fans may recognize it as the film location for "Steel Magnolias", the theme of which permeates every do-dah shop in the historic district.

These photos were taken inside the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store. My pulse quickens and pupils dilate in hardware stores, always have since I was a little girl.

Need a meat grinder, rubber boots or a lasso? No problem.

Paint on the staircase worn thin by 150 years of foot traffic. Note the floor-to-ceiling cubbies at the bottom of the staircase brimming with every kind of pipe fitting you'd ever want or need.
Nice angles

Friday, December 26

Thursday, December 25

Christmas Kitsch

I've had that stuffed Santa doll since I was 5, well technically it was a gift for me and my siblings, but in every family Christmas picture I have it safely clutched in my arms. And at 49, I'm still holding on to it!

Wednesday, December 24


A Dog and Her Duck

Tuesday, December 23

Monday, December 22

They Call me the Breeze

In a few hours, Mocha and I will be headed west, then south for Christmas. I'm looking forward to some mother-daughter time in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I imagine we'll cook and talk, mend some of my thread-worn clothes, laugh, cry, walk and sit in silence.

This is a time to be generous, not with presents, but with love and patience and humor. I feel we need to continue a conversation started a year ago. It's time for her to know her daughter for who she is, who she has become, who she dreams of being. I wonder if she'll hear me.

So my friends, while I'm in Texas, enjoy a few photos I've loaded to magically pop up each day, even though I won't be near a computer or an internet connection.

Thanks for reading, leaving comments, letting me know how you are and who you are. I can feel the pulse of your presence, even though many of us have never met. That you take the time to stop by for a visit makes my heart sing. For this, I am grateful.

Saturday, December 20

Backtracking Just a Wee Bit

Frequent readers get points for being polite and not inquiring as to why no Thanksgiving post on Texas2Tennessee. Not a single mention of turkey, travel, antics or family hoo-hah.

Yes, it was intentional and until now, I couldn't make the Thanksgiving 2008 experience real by writing about it. In a word...Thanksgiving BLEW. Yes, it blew and there are two empty boxes of kleenex, several trash bags full of snot-filled tissue, an empty Robitussin bottle on the counter and cough drop wrappers strewn on the floor to document that indeed I had the FLU.

It's been about 20 years since I've had the flu, so figured I was coming down with a bad cold. What I thought was a hot flash, while driving from Tennessee to South Carolina, was the onset of the flu. Yes I was burning up, but not due to fluctuating hormones. Forty-nine is a very confusing age.
For the next five days, I stayed in my pajamas curled up in the fetal position beneath a down comforter. The Lovely Linda took such good care of me. If love and empathy could cure the flu, I'd have been up and bouncing around in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we discovered the flu scoffed at love and empathy not with a raised eyebrow, but with chills and fever. Charming.

Since lounging in the recliner was the only way I could rest, there I found myself on Thanksgiving morning, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! This has been a ritual since childhood for my mom and me. Linda rolled her eyes from the safety of the kitchen as she prepared fruit salad for the family festivities. The squealing and clapping at the television put the cat and dogs in festive moods as they bounced around the recliner. Sorry guys, it's just a marching band, but here's a treat for playing along.

Speaking of dogs, Miss Mocha felt she needed to be near her momma as she hacked and wheezed. Next to the recliner is a donut shaped cat bed large enough for Persia, the Calico beauty who rules the house of Edwards. Persia weighs about 16 pounds, Mocha weighs 50 pounds. Are you getting the picture? No need to strain your brain...Linda got a few shots of the brown one curled up into the smallest dog ball you've ever seen.

Okay, so I can't get this one leg to fit. You can still applaud the effort!

They're both pretending this is not happening,
but for different reasons.

"So Kenzie, did you see Mocha curled up in Persia's bed?", Zoe asks. "Shhhhhh, just sit here and be cute. Maybe momma will give us a treat!" quips Kenzie.

After 5 days, I was well enough to drive home and within 2 days Linda came down with it too. Not a nice thing for a house guest to do. Did I mention that it was not only Thanksgiving weekend, but her birthday as well?

Here, in the presence of the entire Blogosphere, I apologize for giving you the flu. So sorry honey.

So...that was Thanksgiving 2008. Aren't you glad you didn't ask?

Thursday, December 18


Time to bring on the big drugs.

Sunday, December 14

Yummy Art

I recently met Mary Magenta, an artist whose use of color and texture is rich and delicious. Her expression of the natural world is resonant and so I share this sample from her 2009 Calendar and a link to her website. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 11

Having a Little Nutty

Life is heating up despite the colder temperatures. Here's why:

1. Over the next 6 days, I will perform 5 times with Nashville in Harmony

2. Christmas gifts this year will be baked goods, so it's time to fire up the stove and get cooking.

3. Mocha and I are headed to Texas in 11 days to spend Christmas with my momma aka the milk bone lady. This means lots of advance coordination to make sure everything is covered while I'm gone.

4. Whatever it is I'm forgetting at the moment.

Hopefully I'll have pictures and stories to share and the Chapter 2 of my story when things calm down.

In the meantime...happy, happy ya'll.

Friday, December 5


Fellow travelers, welcome to my 500th post. I've been delaying writing this for several days, hoping something profound would tumble out of my brain and onto the keyboard, but in the words of the song, "I got plenty of nuttin'."

For those who read this blog regularly, you've seen the Feedjit box on the right hand side of the page. It tells me from what city, state, country folks are dropping by. Behind the scenes, it also tells me the posts that are read most frequently (I refuse to label them as "most popular", sounds like Jr. High School). might be surprised to know these three posts have been viewed most often:

1. What Does Your Bumper Sticker Say About You - an encounter where I come bumper-to-bumper with homophobia

2. My Personal Declaration of Independence - an alternative to New Years resolutions

3. Thinkin' Like A Squirrel Can Make You Nuts - a series of stories about battling cracked out squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons (seems lots of folks have this problem)

Funny thing is, folks come to these posts not because they are regular Texas2Tennessee readers, but through Google searches they've done on the subject matter. And this doesn't just happen occasionally, but every single day.

I wonder why these three posts get the most traffic and not a poem or a rant or a story about losing love or finding love? Surely those are more likely subjects for common ground in our collective life experiences. Feedjit doesn't tell me how long they've stayed on the site or even if they've read the post. This, I'd like to know. I'd also like to talk with every person who comes to my site through one of these posts. I bet we'd have a lot in common and maybe learn something from each other.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 3

Learning at the Hem of Her Skirt

Chapter 1: The Break of Day

She woke each morning before the sun, before the men. I could hear her dressing in the dark, the mesh of the zipper’s teeth binding a crisp cotton dress to her slight frame. She walked silently down the hall into the room where my big sister and I slept in a ¾ bed high off the ground. “Time to get up girls,” she’d say and turn in retreat to her domain, the kitchen. Warmed with an always-simmering stove and knotty pine paneling, it was the beating heart of our farmhouse.

I have no recollection of the time from waking to walking toward the chicken coop with an empty metal bowl clutched in my hands. It was my job to collect the eggs needed for the day, not just enough to feed breakfast to the men, but also for baking once the heat of the day had passed. It was a long dark walk, not because of distance or the pre-dawn hour, but because I was afraid.

My five-year-old mind grasped what a futile effort it was for our hens to lay eggs only to have them taken away, day after day. I couldn’t blame them for pecking at my fumbling, thieving hands as I stretched on tiptoe to reach under their warm bodies, trying my best to ease their eggs out and into the metal bowl without causing an uproar in the hen house. There were times when a thief of another sort had beaten me to it. Instead of cradling a warm round egg in my hand, I’d grasp the pulsing coil of a chicken snake. On those mornings, I was lucky to make it back to the safety of Grandma’s kitchen with a single egg. Most lie broken in my wake, spilling their bright yellow centers as an offering to the sun slowly climbing above the horizon of that vast prairie.

“Girl child, you are too young to be filled up with all that fear,” my Grandma said one morning when I returned empty-handed. You’d think my ineptitude would convince her to send my sister or one of many cousins to the hen house, but I guess sending me back day after day was her way of teaching me to march a straight line toward my fear. It took 40 years and marching a not-so-straight line from Texas to Tennessee before I’d come face-to-face with every fear living in the pit of my stomach. be continued

Tuesday, November 25

Sunday, November 23

Bone Tired

I'd post something relevant, witty or profound but I'm bone tired.

Today, Sunday, the Sabbath, the day of rest went like this:

9:30 - 12:15 - performance at Hobson United Methodist Church
2:00 - 3:15 - performance at Bordeaux Long-Term Health Center
4:00 - 6:00 - working through the rough spots from the performances and preparing for the end-of-season concert

A schedule like that is pretty tough on the vocal cords. I'm glad to have a little down time over the Thanksgiving holiday.

At this moment, there is absolute silence at the retreat center and I'm glad. I don't want to speak, sing or even think.

Hoping you had a restful Sunday.


Singing: The Key To A Long Life

I believe in singing. I believe in singing together.

A few years ago a friend and I realized that we both loved singing but didn't do much of it. So we started a weekly a capella group with just four members. After a year we started inviting other people to join. We didn't insist on musical experience — in fact some of our members had never sung before. Now the group has ballooned to around 15 or 20 people.

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.

Well, there are physiological benefits, obviously: You use your lungs in a way that you probably don't for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call "civilizational benefits." When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That's one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Well here's what we do in an evening: We get some drinks, some snacks, some sheets of lyrics and a strict starting time. We warm up a bit first.

The critical thing turns out to be the choice of songs. The songs that seem to work best are those based around the basic chords of blues and rock and country music. You want songs that are word-rich, but also vowel-rich because it's on the long vowels sounds of a song such as "Bring It On Home To Me" ("You know I'll alwaaaaays be your slaaaaave"), that's where your harmonies really express themselves. And when you get a lot of people singing harmony on a long note like that, it's beautiful.

But singing isn't only about harmonizing pitch like that. It has two other dimensions. The first one is rhythm. It's thrilling when you get the rhythm of something right and you all do a complicated rhythm together: "Oh, when them cotton balls get a-rotten, you can't pick very much cotton." So when 16 or 20 people get that dead right together at a fast tempo that's very impressive. But the other thing that you have to harmonize besides pitch and rhythm is tone. To be able to hit exactly the same vowel sound at a number of different pitches seems unsurprising in concept, but is beautiful when it happens.

So I believe in singing to such an extent that if I were asked to redesign the British educational system, I would start by insisting that group singing become a central part of the daily routine. I believe it builds character and, more than anything else, encourages a taste for co-operation with others. This seems to be about the most important thing a school could do for you.

by: Brian Eno

This essay was broadcast on NPR's "This I Believe" series. Jump onto their website here if you'd like to read more.

Tuesday, November 18

Dandelion III

i dared cast my gaze
toward the sun
an eclipse
the lowly dandelion

who pushed its way through
grit and gravel
to birth a single flower

its brilliance burned
bands of light
on my retina

now a golden orb floats
in the dark pool
of my mind’s eye

a constant source of light
when the gray pall of winter

Monday, November 17

Dandelion II

Fatigue [its own form of gravity]
will keep you low
to the ground
seeking food, shelter,
a place to pause

a wisp of an orange butterfly
drifts into a puddle of sun
the edge of its wings tattered
as if beaten atop dry grasses
or the jagged winds of an endless journey

it lingers in mid-air
then collapses on the blossom,
delicate black feet part compact petals
urgent as an infant
it suckles nectar from the heart

the waning scent of summer
drifts on the air
fanned by tattered wings
slowly rising and falling
to the pulse of another season

Sunday, November 16


in the middle of a dull gravel road
where no tires tread
a lone dandelion breaches
the hard-packed surface
and grows in a puddle of sun

its leaves are not free to unfurl
like its kin in the meadow
but held in the grit of contraction,
birthing its one golden eye

a beacon
should it survive
for the passerby to pause,
crouch low and gaze upon the face
of a humble flower

who owes no apology to the rose
or the orchid for that matter
for its lowly residence
or eagerness to invite itself
into the landscape

its saffron mane of summer
signals plentiful nectar
to buzzersby and butterflies
and in the fall, transforms to silken
gossamer globes

awaiting the stir of a gentle breeze
or the pursed lips of children
to blow their seeds in ever-widening arcs,
landing where they may
emerging in spring among kin in the meadow
or alone on a dull gravel road

Tuesday, November 11

Nashville in Harmony Ends Season on a High Note

Nashville in Harmony uses music to build community and create social change. What does that mean? Yes, it means we are a group of singers who make quality music (it IS Nashville where there's a great singer on every corner) but what you have here is a group of intentional

men and women
and their Allies

who stand shoulder-to-shoulder singing in one voice the message that we are all God's children and equal in every way. You see, when we stand together as one there are no labels, only harmony.

It's been an exciting season for us and it's about to get even more exciting. On December 12th & 13th, we'll be performing our holiday concert and recording a live holiday CD. If you're going to be in Nashville on either of those dates, you won't want to miss this. Here's where you can purchase tickets:

News Flash:
Nashville in Harmony is submitting an application to perform at the Presidential Inauguration in January. If any of you in the blogosphere have some pull (and I know you're out there!) put in a good word for us!

Change is not only on our lips, but in our hearts and minds. Nashville in Harmony is modeling effective, lasting change in one of the most conservative states in the nation. I'm so very proud to be a part of this group.

Friday, November 7


I perused the shelves of the Cheatham County Library today. They have more books on NASCAR than they do poetry.

Something must be done.

Spotlight On Fall

Even the smallest of saplings takes center stage with its multi-hued costume.

Monday, November 3

Quiet Solitude

The surface of the lake captures what the eye sees,
what the lense cannot.
A Sunday morning walk with Mocha.
Each footstep drawing me closer to a place of quiet solitude.

Autumnal Awe

The Dogwood tree, their leathery-white blooms in spring create the illusion of stratus clouds floating in the understory of the forest. I doubly adore them for the brilliant red berries they produce in the fall. From a distance, berries are shielded by the curvature of the leaves. If you stop and look up, the explosion of color against a clear blue sky is manna.

Saturday, November 1


twine connects then and now
mental dental floss
playing tug-o-war with the psyche
a little cat-and-mouse
with consciousness

twine, whose strands are twisted rays of light
pierce the fog of perception

rays of light diffused
by confusion and fear
eventually return
to a linear state of clarity
connecting then and now

into a taught line of truth
each end waiting
to be undone

Thursday, October 30

Throwing You a Curve Ball

Hormones may be getting the best of me. For the past couple of weeks, I've been stomping around, huffing, puffing, crying and peeing in everyone's Wheaties. At the rate I am consuming pie, it won't be long before I'm moving up a size or two in blue jeans.

So now it's your turn, my stealth readership. I know you're there. I can hear you breathing. I can see your muddy shoe prints on my blog after you've sneaked in during the middle of the night and slipped out through the backdoor without so much as a howdy. BTW, whoever took the last Diet Coke out of the fridge is going to pay...BIG.

We all have a lot on our minds and let's be honest, 1/2 of you stopped reading after the first sentence. I was going to post an articulate, well-researched rant about the state of whatever state we are in as a country right now, but I gotta tell ya, I'm too tired and cranky to put that much work into it, so you're getting bullet with it.

1. All you conservatives and liberals...shut up, stop stealing each others yard signs and get your ass to your local polling place and vote.

2. If you've already voted, way to go Skippy, but you're not done. Call/text/email, IM/etc... ALL of your friends, relatives, co-workers, bar buddies, neighbors, I mean EVERYONE on your list and encourage them to vote. Don't take NO for an answer and don't let anyone slide with an excuse. Gas up the car and shuttle people to and from the polls if you have to.

3. So what if they are voting for the other guy. We've gotten so damn apathetic and cynical about voting, only 64% of people eligible to vote pulled the lever during the 2004 presidential election. This means 36% of you were sitting on your couch with your hand in a bag of Doritos (or worse) watching TV. I promise you whatever you're watching will be resurrected in reruns, on your TiVo or YouTube. Get up, find your car keys, drive to your polling place and vote.

4. Speaking of voting...let me remind you that you are NOT voting for Obama or McCain. Those are the names you'll see on the ballot, but DO NOT BE FOOLED. You are voting for the political platform of the party supporting the candidate. matter what you think of the choices, when they get into office, everything they do will be driven by the party platform.

Oh, and don't wait until the last minute to read these manifestos, they've got some heft and if you're like me, will need to take a breather now and again for a glass of wine and the throwing of something breakable when you realize what you have/haven't been voting for.

Here's a link to the Democratic Party Platform and here's the Republican. You're welcome.

5. When all is said and done on November 5th, we will still be neighbors. These are folks you will need to turn to in a time of crisis and I'm not talking about a cup of sugar. Learn to talk with (not to) each other on a human level without all the personal attacks and the voice raising and the sign stealing. That's nothing but school yard bully behavior we've learned from watching #43 in the White House and you're better than that, really you are.

I'm going to stop for now because I'm tired and there's still pie to be had. I'm not nearly through, so wipe your feet on the welcome mat the next time you drop by and could you bring a 6 pack of Diet Coke?

Thanks friends.

Monday, October 27

Pressure Cooker

I'm working on a rant, but need to hit the release valve a few times before the words will flow. In the meantime, enjoy this:

Letter from the Desert: DIY Rapture

and the dish ran away with the...

I am baffled.

When was another utensil added to the standard place setting at the dinner table? Fork to the left, empty space in the middle for the plate, knife and spoon to the right nestled atop a neatly folded napkin and to the right of that, a cell phone.

Apparently, modern society has added the cell phone as an essential mealtime tool, but that's not what has me baffled.

When did we transfer our personal power to the ring tone? Or more importantly, to the person dialing our cell phone number? When did responding to a ring tone become an involuntary reflex like breathing or blinking or digesting a meal?

Thursday, October 23

Yes I Did!

...and it felt so good I think I'll do it again tomorrow!
I was so excited they gave me two stickers...two, like lollipops from the doctor. And, I didn't even have to bend over for a shot!
Let's hear it for democracy...
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

Tuesday, October 21

Fledgling Goldfinch

I am but a tiny bird

Lo for the day
when a pansy
could shelter me

Monday, October 20

Prayer Circle

Six pillars in a circle
prosaic stones etched by time
its passage witnessed
by shadows intertwined
casting lines of light,
lines of darkness
across her fractured face

an eye, but no expression
a mouth, but no sound

Solitary woman standing centered,
among pillars of voices
rising in unison to an unknown god

Her primitive spirit
inside her clasped lips

Sunday, October 19

I Screamed

My good buddy J and I went to dinner last night. After a spicy Korean meal that left our sinus cavities twinging, there was only one thing to ice cream!

We stopped at the local Baskin-Robbins and discovered this:

To our left we see the "Whirl of Change" flavor, peanut-nougat ice cream whirled with chunks of chocolate-covered peanut brittle and a caramel ribbon.

Over there on the right is the "Straight Talk Crunch" with caramel ribbon, chocolate pieces, candy red states and crunchy mixed nuts swirled into white chocolate ice cream.

Since I intend to vote early this week, I thought it appropriate to put my voting reflex to a test. There they were, side-by-side and the dude behind the counter was anxiously awaiting my decision. He muttered under his breath, "The Straight Talk Crunch is no good. That red candy leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

"A scoop of Whirl of Change please," shot out of my mouth quicker than a too hot potato. I blew the smoke off the end of my trigger finger and dug in.

For the record, change tastes very, very good.

Tuesday, October 14

Duke - the House Guest

Before winter settles in, we'll have several cold snaps. The temperature will drop into the low 40s at night with lovely, low humidity days no warmer than 70. This weather pattern causes the leaves to change into vibrant colors and sends people and critters scampering for food, firewood and a warm place to hang out. All-in-all, a welcome and positive event. Except...

Meet Duke. We met one morning about two weeks ago when I was doing laundry. It was early and I was going through the motions without really focusing on the here and now, but couldn't shake the feeling of being watched. Directing my gaze above the washer and dryer, I see it, a snake face staring at me with a rather quizzical look, as if saying, "Hey, this is a warm, dry place. Can I hang out here?"

Much to my surprise, I didn't throw my hands up in the air and run screaming from the room. I started talking. To the snake. Out loud. In complete sentences. Posing direct questions is if the snake possessed the power of speech. It went something like this:

Me: Good morning. How are doing Mr. Snake?

Snake: [blink]

Me: You're quite clever to have found a way into the basement. Is there more of you or just a head?

Snake: [blink]

Me: Of course there's more of you. About how much, would you say?

Snake: [blink]

Me: So, I'm just gonna do a little laundry over here and how about you stay over there and everything will be copacetic. Okay?

Snake: [blink]

I took that last [blink] as a yes and went about my merry way doing chores. When it was time to put the clothes in the dryer, Mr. Snake was gone and I thought that was the end of that. Except...

He liked the hospitality so much, he came back and has taken up residence on the ledge above the dryer, unless he's stretched out on top of the masonry wall under the floor joists (okay, I have obviously watched too much HGTV).

I'm still not particularly concerned about Mr. Snake hanging out in the basement. He's non-poisonous and best I can tell, a King Snake. He comes in at night when it's cold and goes out in the morning after it warms up and does, you know, snake things. Since mice like to hang out in the basement too, it seems like a pretty good deal. Mr. Snake gets a place to chill and the mouse population is kept at bay. Except...

After two weeks of this amicable living arrangement, Duke is beginning to act like an ungrateful teenager. He sleeps till late afternoon, sits and stares for a while and then goes out about 5:00. I don't see him again till the next morning and he doesn't call to let me know he's sleeping over at a friend's house. Really...after all I've done for him!

There's one more thing. I'm not the only person who goes in the basement. There's the lady who cleans on Mondays and volunteers come and go on a regular basis. It occurred to me they may not be as calm about Duke as I am. So today, I outed Duke to the cleaning lady and she was like, "There's NO WAY I'm going down there and doing laundry with a snake!"

Okay, so now I have to do something about Duke. Which is kind of a shame seeing as he's such a good conversationalist.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 11

Red River Rivalry

No. 5 Texas vs No. 1 Oklahoma
met today in Dallas, Texas
at the famed Cotton Bowl
Final score: Texas 45 Oklahoma 35
mmm, mmm, mmm...that's some good NCAA football
to read more about the game, click here

Tuesday, October 7

Plug In, Bliss Out

I have a picture in my head. Can you see it? No, I didn't think so and that's a shame. I long for the day when technology advances to the point where we can transfer images in our head to a free, easily accessible medium. In the meantime, maybe a port could be installed behind my ear and a cable run from brain to laptop to the blogosphere.

Until then, I'll grapple with the English language, attempting to describe sights, sounds, feelings and sensations that will pull you into the moment.

Okay? Everyone take a deep breath and engage your imagination. Here we go...

Two windows dominate the southeast wall of the bedroom. Because my living quarters are in the basement, they are inset at ground level and rise some 50 plus inches where they meet the ceiling. At the moment, no window coverings block the view of trees grown tall and slender over time. The canopy of leaves reach so high I have to tilt my head sideways to see the top, swaying gracefully on a crisp fall breeze. Streams of early morning sunlight illumine all it dissects. In this light, lichen-covered tree trunks look dressed in emerald trousers, fine enough to lead a St. Patrick's day parade. In the lower canopy, a sumac is afire with blood red leaves, seductive as they flutter like lashes on the tips of thin branches.

Then there are the birds, whose flight casts fleeting shadows on the wall. Two chickadees plunge beak first into the bird feeder, fueling up on oil-rich safflower seed which will keep their breasts plump and warm during the winter days ahead. They are joined by a titmouse, with its signature table manners. After selecting the perfect seed, the titmouse retires to the crooked metal arm that supports the feeder with seed clutched firmly in its foot. With rapid fire movement it taps, taps, taps until the shell splits to reveal the soft kernel. Such percussion rings out clink, clink, clink, like a blacksmith striking hammer to anvil.

It's this time of morning when the air is not invisible ether, but infused with color, texture and tone. You can feel its supple thickness on your fingertips, see the air currents before your very eyes swirling, lifting, dropping to the ground as temperatures rise and dew evaporates, defying gravity.

Too soon, the moment passes as the sun rises higher in the sky. Before it does, I rush outdoors in bare feet, raise my hands to the sky and breath this river of life into my soul.

Monday, October 6

Fall's Harvest

there comes a time
in this season
when you look up
in disbelief

body, earth
parched ground, skin,
the gaping mouth of
a shrinking lake

all cry out
to a barren sky
that only rains
falling leaves
who driven by wind
deceive the ear
but dazzle the eye
with their golden, scarlet, russet hues

would i trade showers of color
for showers of rain
in these days of drought?

ask me tomorrow.
today, i feast
on fall's harvest

Saturday, October 4

Euonymous Americana


Hearts-a-Bustin' with Love

Wednesday, October 1

Happy Birthday Holly!

See Holly.
See Holly grin.
See Holly grin on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.

See Minnie.
See Minnie kick up her heels.
See Minnie kick up her heels for the birthday girl.

See Holly and Minnie.
See Holly and Minnie skip.
See Holly and Minnie skip backstage.
See Holly and Minnie skip backstage for an adult beverage.

(btw, that's Holly on the left)
To my dear friend Holly,

I hope your day is filled with grinning, kicking up your heels, skipping and an adult beverage.

Tuesday, September 30

On Having a Seizure

This was one of those days when I wish I'd had my camera with me. If I had, I could show you the image that sent me into a metaphorical seizure.

I imagine what I'm about to describe has been plastered all over television, flickr, youtube, myspace, etc...but since I'm intentional about not watching TV and mindlessly surfing the web, you'll cut me a little slack.

So, we're driving through a picturesque neighborhood in West Nashville. Along the winding road, I see yard signs for Candidate A and Candidate B. Excellent, the two party system seems to be equally represented. Then, we approach a house that has a yard sign for Candidate B that is approximately 50 times larger than regulation size (no, I don't really think there's a regulation size, but you know what I mean) and below it is a color photograph of Candidate B's running mate decked out in camo, holding a semi-automatic weapon on her hip (okay maybe it was a rifle, but I was having a with it).


Someone please explain this to me.

Sunday, September 28

In Search of...

One of my daily reads is Hahn at Home. Lori is re-entering the dating scene and asked her readers for assistance in composing a personal ad. The entries are in and #5 contained the best question I've ever read:

"Will you drive out in the dark of night to find me a pain pill/ice cream/thesaurus?"

If she finds a woman who can truthfully answer 'yes' to that question and do it without being asked, she has hit the jillpot!

Good luck Lori.

Tuesday, September 23

My Jubilee

The phone rang this morning a little before eight o'clock, it was my mom singing Happy Birthday, the same call she's made every year since I moved away from home. God she's sweet.

I get pretty psyched about birthdays, subscribing to the concept of the birthday month. Some people find my enthusiasm a little off-putting. To the naysayers I proclaim, "Shut up and have a cupcake!" Maybe it's because I witnessed an entire generation of people die very young that I appreciate having a birthday, you know, versus NOT having a birthday.

Today marks the beginning of my year of 49th birthday.

Here's a little poem that speaks to a year of emancipation and restoration.

make a pilgrimage
to the center of your soul
along the way
forgive others

forgive yourself
whose hand alone
spreads a healing balm
on open wounds

what is owed
spills from the urn of forgiveness,
broken at the foot
of the altar

labor only
to lay the bedrock
of the road
leading you to Jubilee

Sunday, September 21

Fall is Coming

Morning mist obscures the surface of the lake, but your eyes are not deceived. Among columns of green is one lone tree leading the march toward Fall, a season of change, color and noisy leaves underfoot. Hooray!

Friday, September 12

Hunker Down

Houston Skyline from Eleanor Tinsley Park

It seems the media has latched on to a familiar Texas phrase, "hunker down." I don't know if, in fact, it's origins lie in the rich Texas soil, but in talking with my family and friends over the last two days, that is in fact what is going on. Here are a few anecdotes to ponder:

1. The pelicans left Galveston Island several days ago. They effected their own evacuation without benefit of the National Weather Service, FEMA or the Mayor's Office.

2. My friends on the force (HPD) don't have the option of evacuating. They have been activated and are leaving their homes to begin 12 hour shifts until order is restored.

3. The mayor of Houston had the following advice about preparing for the approaching storm, "Run from the water, dodge the wind."

I'm still trying to make sense out of how one dodges the wind, especially when it's hurling uprooted trees, broken glass and debris at you. Maybe ruby slippers would be of help.

4. "This one is big and scary."

Texans are accustomed to everything being on a large scale, so when they describe this storm as big, you can be assured it is HUGE.

Right now, my heart is in my throat for friends, family and neighbors who call Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast home. May you wake tomorrow to the glint of sunlight bouncing off majestic skyscrapers and an intact skyline.

Tuesday, September 2

Summer Reading Wrap Up

Even though summer's not officially over for 20 more days, I'm calling it finito to my summer reading list. Stoved up over the weekend with a creaky back gave me a chance to add another book to the list: The Summer Guest by Justin Cronin . It was a well-crafted read with some sublime passages.

It wasn't my intention to graze through books this summer like a bag of Frito's, but graze I did. From the thousands of pages, myriad of characters and settings, carefully crafted and edited books, one paragraph tucked in a 30 year-old book by Canadian author, Gilean Douglas is going to stay with me like the memory of this summer's perfect peach:

Every conference, church service or significant chat should take place in the outdoors or, when weather worsened, where a sweep of beautiful landscape could be seen. There would be silence first and just looking. Then you would see the neck unstiffen, the shoulders lower and go back, the hands open, the foot still. Then irrevocable things might not be done out of weariness, impatience, prejudice or greed. Then the benediction of beauty sweetened with compassion might flow around and through us, to save all that is worth saving.

The Protected Place

Sunday, August 24

Sunday Snapshots





(1) ironweed, (2) unknown, (3) fuzzy caterpillar, (4) paw-paw

Saturday, August 23

The Coming Together of Souls

Melodic strains of Amazing Grace seep through the ceiling above my head and settle around my shoulders like a soft blanket. 7 men are assembled upstairs and their voices resonate like Gregorian chant through a stone abbey. These same muted voices were loud, boisterous and animated earlier this morning, waking me from a sound sleep.

It is a gift to hover on the periphery and bear silent witness to the coming together of souls.

Friday, August 22

Friday Tapas

This end-of-week reflection continues. Do you have a similar practice?


The feeling of accomplishment in bringing tasks to closure was palatable today. After marking a major task off the list, my body went limp and demanded rest. I wonder which is my natural state of being, task driven and upright or prone and contemplative?


So much to do a task list was created. Where is the natural rhythm? Two weeks ago, my desk and work was in order. Today, it is chaos on the surface and in my mind.


A day dedicated to wellness (and shouldn't this be every day?), to liberation from pain, to the restoration of mobility. Blue Bell Peaches and Homemade Vanilla ice cream and an evening with fellow writers was the balm needed to soothe this battered body.


Simple hospitality in the form of warm bread from the oven, a resolution to keys locked in a car and being in conversation with children.

Last week, we gave a man a sleeper sofa, this week he returned for a dresser and brought bagels as a gesture of thanks. This was an opportunity for grace and I knew it in the moment, not hours or days later and was able to receive his gift with my whole heart.


Creating a welcoming space for fellow writers to revel in our love of the shared word.

Thursday, August 21

It's Big Bag of Dog Food Day!

Mocha not only understands words, but entire phrases. Her favorite is "It's Big Bag of Dog Food Day! Today, Mocha is taking you along for the ride as we forage the hills of Tennessee for the rarest of game...the purple-breasted, yellow-feathered bag of dog food.

I look wistfully at the door. Why will it not open Momma?

I have my duck, let's ride!

First stop, the Post big bag of dog food here.

Second stop...the bank. What's this? Nice teller lady is handing me a dog biscuit.

Are there no big bags of dog food in the vault?


Final stop, the grocery store...magical land of big bags of dog food.

Hurry Momma, hurry!

Me, my duck and the big bag of dog food have made it home safely.

Open the door...NOW!

Bag is open, am feeling weak.

I praise the dog food gods for opposable human thumbs.

Very good Momma. You have performed your duties well.


Thank you.

Song of Goodbye

even tide, odd tide
time after time
tide pounds the shore
with the hulls of seafarers who
time after time
are drawn to the illusion
of safe harbor

Widows walk on rooftops
as mist and waves swirl
time after time
after time
after time
through hollow bones,
singing their song of goodbye

Tuesday, August 19

Me and Frozen Peas

Lately, I've been getting a lot of mileage from a bag of frozen peas, usually during the dark of night. No, not as a snack but as relief for a swollen knee. It's 3:20 am and the pain woke me up again, so here I sit in my big comfy chair, leg thrown over the arm with a bag of Birds Eye sweet peas perched on my knee. It's really quite effective, as long as I don't eat them.

Two years ago, an orthopedic surgeon delivered the stunning news that total knee replacement surgery was the best treatment option for me. Really, I thought? This might be a good time to haul out my inner health care advocate and ask some questions. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Tell me about the surgery. What kind of material is used, how long does it last, what's the recovery time, etc...?

OS: Mumble, mumble, mumble. We don't know how long it lasts. Recovery varies from person to person, blah, blah, blah.

Me: I'm sorry, you don't know how long the artificial knee will last, not even an educated guess?

OS: Well...maybe 30 years.

Me: 30 years? So you're telling me that in my mid to late 70's it will need to be replaced again?

OS: Something like that.

Me: What other treatment options are available, especially considering that I'm one of the millions of Americans who is uninsured?

OS: You don't have insurance? [he calls the nurse in and mumbles something to her, she leaves the room quickly]

Me: No, so what are my options?

OS: There's a new medication, here's a pamphlet that explains how it works, but it's expensive and I don't think in a case like yours it's going to be very effective.

Me: A case like mine?

OS: Yes, you have an advanced case of osteoarthritis. We could try a cortisone injection and it will either give you temporary relief or your body will reject it, like an allergic reaction, which will aggravate your knee even more.

Me: Oh.

At this point, I'm staring off into space considering my options when the nurse comes back in and hands the doctor something. He starts poking hard around my knee cap with his thumb. The pain brings me into focus and as I'm asking him, "What are the side effects of a cortisone injection?" he jams a huge needle in my knee.

Although it was reprehensible for him to treat me without my permission, that cortisone injection did the trick and for two years, I've been mostly symptom and pain free, until now.

So, tomorrow it's off to the clinic with the hope a doctor will jam a big needle in my knee and fill it with cortisone. In the meantime, I adjust the thawing bag of peas, swallow some ibuprofen and ponder what it's going to take for this country to create a workable health care program for everyone.

Sunday, August 17

Sunday Snapshots

This morning, it was 60 chilly degrees when Mocha and I stepped outdoors. Since Creation was being so accommodating, I loaded the journal, pen and camera into the golf cart and drove as deep into the woods as possible.

There's a saying I've heard since moving here, "If you stand still long enough Tennessee will grow right over you." How this translates into the outdoor experience is, when not locked in the snapping jaws of drought, you are surrounded by a monochromatic expanse of green. As I walked in the woods, the slightest variation in the predominant palette caught my eye.

Here are a few Sunday Snapshots proving that Mother Nature does reward the attentive observer.

Red berries = birdfood

The absence of color in this fungi is colorful against the forest floor.

A sugar maple bloom?