Sunday, March 23

Leipers Fork

Easter morning...a drive through farming country. A pastoral setting to raise horses, cattle, goats and sheep. Wait a minute...those aren't sheep, they're llamas!

Garrison Creek, Natchez Trace Parkway

Easter morning...spring is coming in like a mouse in Middle Tennessee. It's still freezing or below at night, but the days are warmer, accompanied by a biting wind too unruly for kite flying. Infant wildflowers are peeking through a blanket of leaves, the bravest of which are tooth wort, blood root and Jacob's ladder. Others will come, like the coquettish mayflower, but for now my soul clings to the hint of spring emerging from the forest floor and budding tips of branches.

Friday, March 21

Barn - Bells Bend Park

Good Friday, 2008...Linda, Mocha and I are the only ones in the park. We meander at our leisure through rolling hills of once-farmland. Three does cresting a nearby hill were surprised to see us, but kept gliding and leaping for joy in their exquisite silence. Wonder, awe and delight were ours at every turn. Good Friday indeed.

Wednesday, March 19

The Puzzle of She

Curved edges, sharp
angles fit,
don't fit
hands won't sit
demurely on her lap

fingers clasp, unclasp
twist the platinum band
round and round
like the carousel
of her life

jump, don't jump
off the white steed
onto black tar pavement
where shattered pieces of
fun-house glass no longer distort

she leaps!
reaches down
with trembling hands,
gathers the shards of her life

she'll spend the afternoon...
the rest of her life
putting together the puzzle
of she again

Tuesday, March 11

Stutterin' Peaches Carter


1. Most Blues begin, "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes... sort of:

"Got a good woman
with the meanest face in town.
Yes, I got a good woman
with the meanest face in town.
Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher,
and she weigh 500 pounds."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch--ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and company motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or any place in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues in any place that don't get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chompin' on it is.

9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:

a. Highway
b. Jailhouse
c. An empty bed
d. Bottom of a whiskey glass

11. Bad places for the Blues:

a. Nordstrom's
b. Gallery openings
c. Ivy league institutions
d. Golf courses

12. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be a old ethnic person, and you slept in it.

13. You have the right to sing the Blues if:

a. You older than dirt
b. You blind
c. You shot a man in Memphis
d. You can't be satisfied

14. You don't have the right to sing the Blues if:

a. You have all your teeth
b. You were once blind but now can see
c. The man in Memphis lived
d. You have a pension fund

15. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues.

16. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues.

17. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:

a. Cheap wine
b. Whiskey or bourbon
c. Muddy water
d. Nasty black coffee

18. The following are NOT Blues beverages:

a. Perrier
b. Chardonnay
c. Snapple
d. Slim Fast

19. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So is the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broke-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

20. Some Blues names for women:

a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie
d. Fat River Dumplin'

21. Some Blues names for men:

a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Big Willie

22. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Debbie and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

23. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:

a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)
b. First name(see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Melon, Kiwi, etc.)
c. Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

24. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own even one computer, you cannot sing the blues.

What's your blues name?

Saturday, March 8

Dog In Snow

Yes...that's a toy in her mouth

Enlarge to see maniacal grin

Must find stick!

Friday, March 7

What Is To Come

When I awoke this morning, the sky was again gray. A dim light behind the clouds assured me Helios, crowned by the shining aureole of the sun, was on course. As the morning progressed, the sky grew darker, denser and threatening. After being up a few hours, I opted to return to bed with a cup of coffee, muffin and a good book. Mocha was kind enough to share my bed with me. Her residual body heat warmed me as I snuggled under the thick comforter.

The luxury of time to read, write and contemplate has been mine since moving to Tennessee. I've squandered this gift at times, but today am immersed in a timely and important book that would serve us all well to read:

Authors Susan Kuner, Carol Matzkin Orsborn, Linda Quigley and Karen Leigh Stroup dare to propose we shift our perception of life-threatening and chronic illness from a battle to a doorway through which we can walk into a life lived fully. All four women are initiates of breast cancer. Their intimate and poignant stories translate well to the experiences, questions and struggles with any disease that enters our lives uninvited.

As I gaze out the window in my sitting room, goldfinches, cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches and woodpeckers are feeding feverishly. I've grown to trust their prognostication skills over meteorologists. Their rush to fuel up tells me snow is coming, and soon.

Wrap yourself in warmth and embrace the gift of today.

Thursday, March 6

Between Heaven and Texas

Daily, I search for the horizon,

food for my soul.

Daily, my gaze is halted

by ridges, dense forests, foothills.

Daily, my spirit seeks to rest

under a cumulonimbus cloud,

soaring 40,000 feet

between heaven and Texas

A copy of Texas Sky by Wyman Meinzer was placed in my outstretched hands on Valentine's Day. Thank you Linda for a most thoughtful, kind and loving gift.

Luckily, this book has a slick dust cover. Tears roll off nicely when I pine for the horizon. Sometimes, I walk around with it clutched to my breast. Silly you say? The words of Texas Parks and Wildlife Director, Andrew Sansom sum it up nicely,

Our identity as Texans is tied up with the sky, and our belief that anything is possible flourishes in a place of endless horizons and unobstructed access to the clouds and the stars.

Next week, I travel to Texas. You can rest assured whether twilight or day, I'll be basking under the endless Texas sky.

Tuesday, March 4

Closer to Clarity

Trail's end may not be clear
but shadows mark the way
as each step brings
me closer to clarity

Monday, March 3

A Slippery Slope

It's happened. I've lived long enough to become a participant in an activity I would (and did) scoff 25 years ago.

Picture this, it's 1983 and a group of young, hip friends are squeezed into a booth at Denny's consuming copious amounts of coffee and pancakes after a night of bar hopping. Our conversation is peppered with current events, antics from the night before and 20-something angst. I believe my hair was hot pink and jutting off in gravity-defying directions, held aloft by concrete hair products and cigarette smoke. A group of senior citizens enter the restaurant, shuffling past our booth. We watch the geriatric parade pass by in slow motion and settle into a table near us. Sitting on the edge of the booth, I could eavesdrop on their conversation, which was a person-by-person account of their physical ailments. This one's gall bladder, that one's liver, another one's diabetes. They were swapping tips on navigating Medicare, private insurance and worrying about how they were going to pay for medication on a fixed income. I remember thinking to myself, Oh God! Is that all they have to talk about...spare me!

Fast-forward to 2008 and I'm sitting in a bar with a friend and a new acquaintance. We are waiting for the Gospel Drag Show to start and after talking about the upcoming election, the paradox of gay Republicans and how delicious the chocolate sin cake was from the pot luck dinner, it happened. My friend started talking about her pending colonoscopy, which prompted many questions from the other person about cost, insurance, whether she'd have twilight anesthesia or be knocked out, etc... I sat mute thinking to myself, Oh God! It's happened. I'm sliding into middle age where the conversation will center around our bowels. Luckily, the disco ball started spinning, the music started thumping and out came drag queens in choir robes topped off with sequined shawls.

Balance had been struck. Whew!