Beaten With a Hose ...

... hit by a truck. Whatever. Back pain is horrible. What I have done ... I know not, but I desperately need a massage.

"Her body felt like it'd been beaten with a hose. This must be what it felt like to get old. It wasn't that your body fell apart from living so long. It was that you had to take so many stompings from life that you'd be happy when the time came to close your eyes and never open them again." ~Janet Fitch, Paint It Black

Musical Menagerie ABC

My motivation to do much of anything else is lacking at the moment, so I have chosen to do another list of ABCs. If you missed the first one you can find it here. Today, I bring you a list of my favored musical artists from A to Z … if I can think of one to fit every letter.

A – Aerosmith. Oh yeah! Aerosmith. What? “Sweet Emotion,” baby!!! What did you expect from me? ABBA? I think not.

B – Bon Jovi. Having recently grown to appreciate The Beatles they almost made it into this spot, but I had vague feelings of betrayal just thinking about doing such a thing. Bon Jovi was my first band obsession. I have every single album. I can not do that to them. Faithful to Bon Jovi I remain.

C – This is a hard one. There are a lot of artists and bands out there that begin with the letter “c” but I have to go with a band that broke up a few years ago: Creed. Good stuff.

“I lie awake on a long, dark night
I can't seem to tame my mind
Slings and arrows are killing me inside
Maybe I can't accept the life that's mine”

~Creed, Weathered

D – I am grooving to this new band lately. Dogs Die In Hot Cars. Yep, you read that right. Great band name. Check out their myspace page for sound bites.

E – Easy one. Evanescence. If you have not discovered them yet … well, to be frank, you are missing out.

F – Flogging Molly. There is something fabulous about Irish punk music with traditional instruments. Good sound.

G – The Goo Goo Dolls. Johnny Rzeznik. Yum. I have my shallow moments.

H – Hannah Montana. JOKING!!! Wow, I’m so not serious. My answer would be Hanson. What? You don’t believe me? Well, you shouldn’t. Could my REAL answer please stand up?? That would be … Lauryn Hill and her miseducated self.

I – INXS. That was another no brainer.

J – Mmmmm … I do so love me some Journey … the good stuff with Steve Perry as front man. What? I am allowed to adore cheesy 80’s ballads.

K – “Are you gonna go my way?” ~Lenny Kravitz

L – Right now I am enamored with a few songs by Leona Lewis. She may have been a “Pop Idol” winner, but she is really good.

M – Another hard choice for me. Dang it. Um …. Sara McLachlan. Nope. Nope. I have to go with George Michael. Yep, I love George Michael. Leave me alone.

N – Nickelback.

“Prison gates won't open up for me
On these hands and knees I'm crawlin'
Oh, I reach for you
Well I'm terrified of these four walls
These iron bars can't hold my soul in
All I need is you
Come please I'm callin'
And oh I scream for you
Hurry I'm fallin', I'm fallin'”

~Nickelback, Savin’ Me

O – Yep. The new obsession would be OneRepublic. I’ve seen them live. It was fantastic!!!

P – Phantom of the Opera. I have the soundtrack from the original Broadway cast. I have the soundtrack from the movie. It is, and will always be, my favorite musical.

Q – Queen. Duh. All fat-bottomed girls should love the genius of Freddie Mercury.

R – Here we find yet another letter with a myriad of choices. I am feeling a little bluesy today to I am going to go with Bonnie Raitt.

S – I have to be faithful to another of my high school crushes in this choice … so Skid Row it is … but only with Sebastian Bach in at lead. What a voice!!!

T – Thriving Ivory. Haven’t heard of them? You will.

U – U2. Really. You should have expected nothing less.

V – Van Halen, baby!!!

W – WHAM!! Am I allowed to put George Michael on this list twice? No? OK fine, I will go with The Who. I am not a total ditz. I promise.

X – X-treme. I guess. I’m clueless on this one.

Y – YES!!!

Z – ZZ Top. Why? Because “every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man.” That’s why.

Diamond in the Rough

My soul does not match the mirror. I love the inside … not so much the outside. I want them to join and become one.

“Hold fast to the human inside of you and you’ll survive.” ~The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Film (2007)

“I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes - it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'Well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, 'I'm sorry,' and then you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry.' If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach.” ~Maya Angelou, American Poet

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul” ~George Bernard Shaw, Irish Author

Quirky Quirks

It has come to my attention that I am really weird. Ssshh. I can hear the sarcastic comments now. I know. I know. I am weird. I guess my discovery comes in the form of realizing that a lot of my bizarre quirks can be traced back to growing up on The Dark Continent. I think of things that normal Americans do not. I submit, for your consideration, evidence of my quirkiness.

Fruit. I love fruit. In fact, I am passionate about it … except one. Kiwi. I do not eat Kiwi. Why? Well, to be perfectly honest, Kiwi too closely resembles little hairy monkey balls. Yep. I said it. Little. Hairy. Monkey. Balls. The phrase was actually adopted from a grocery delivery driver while working at Shoney’s restaurant but once I had the visual … yeah – no more Kiwi. I have seen my fair share of real monkey balls in my lifetime and the resemblance is startling. It was not my favorite fruit anyway.

The power goes out. What do I do? I sit here. I figure it will come back on at some point … whenever. In the meantime? I have candles and books and peanut butter & jelly and … whatever. I am good. Hakuna Matata! My neighbor? Her first question is always, “Did somebody call the electric company?” Always! I never think about it. You live in Africa for a bit and you will not be calling the electric company every time the power goes off either. I think she has them on speed dial. (Love you, A.)

When washing dishes I stand like a Masai warrior leaning on his spear. That is, I put my left foot up on my knee and stand there … almost like a stork. I must find a picture to help you “see” what I am talking about. Hmmm. Let me see. Here you go:

I have stood like this while doing dishes since I was a kid. My mom used to ask me if I needed to go to the restroom, choo, loo, wc, toilet … you get the idea. No, mom. This is the way I stand – but only when I am washing dishes. (Thanks to
Masai Environmental Resource Coalition. I stole their logo for my picture.)

There you go. Three examples of my quirky quirks. I told you I was weird.

“Quirky is sexy, like scars or chipped teeth.” ~Jennifer Aniston, American Actress

Kidding Myself Party??

“. . . the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain.” ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

I have taken on the task of planning my 20-year high school reunion. It is a very good thing that this event will not take place until 2012. This means I have four years to brainstorm and hash out all my ideas. Still, what was I thinking?

You see, pulling off a reunion for a class that graduated from an international school overseas is not an easy thing. I have classmates spread out EVERYWHERE on this planet. The bulk of us are located within North America but there are substantial populations of friends in Australia, Africa and Europe … and a few in Asia. Exactly how do you pick an appropriate location?

I had an epiphany this week and it is one that should have come sooner:

No matter what I do … I will NOT make EVERYONE happy.

So, classmates, expect to hear from me soon on date and location. I would love for us to have the biggest, most awesome 20-year class reunion in Rift Valley Academy history. Realistically, I am aware this may not happen. I will still be really, really, really proud to have planned this thing and I will be really, really, really thrilled and excited to see who shows up.

“Okay, well, I’ll see you at the ‘I’ve peaked and I’m kidding myself’ party.” ~Grosse Pointe Blank, Film (1997)

Rift Valley Academy: Alma Mater

Hail to thee our Alma Mater. Let our praises all unite;
Rift Valley Academy, Hail, all hail the red and white.

May the blessing of the Father rest upon thee RVA,
making all thy sons and daughters pure and true and strong always.

Loyal to our school of learning, standing for God’s perfect way,
May the love of Christ our Savior guide our footsteps day by day.

Hail, all hail thee Alma Mater looking for a coming King,
Lifting high the Christian standard, Hail, all hail! Thy praises ring.


Monday Mosaic #6 – Flowers in the Dark

I have several mosaics made and ready to post. This way I can allow my mood-driven self to choose what I am craving to see on Monday morning. Today, however, I showed the mosaics to my boys and let them choose. And so – we have flowers that I love … many of which are indigenous to the equatorial climate that I miss so dearly. I wish I could successfully grow my own flowers, but I know the tragedy of not having a “green thumb” and so I have greenery and color in my home that can not be killed. Fake. They are fake and, of course, do not have the charm of a lovely scent. On rare occasions I splurge and purchase flowers. More often I will pick my own wildflowers when I can find them.

"I love to smell flowers in the dark," she said. "You get hold of their soul then." ~Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

1) I adore wildflowers (center). While an immaculately manicured flower garden has a charm of its own, there is something magical about cresting a hill and encountering a field of multiple random colors punctuated by the flitter of butterflies. Beautiful.

I will start at the top left corner and work clockwise around the mosaic.

2) Hibiscus. So many
colors and varieties. Lovely.

3) Bird of Paradise. Yes, I have fake versions of this beautiful flower in my home.

4) Bleeding Heart. Obvious why it has this name, isn’t it? My boys have chosen this as their favorite.

Bottlebrush. Bee magnet it is. Trust me.

6) Bouganvilla. I can not describe how much I love this plant. I have seen the vine overtake entire trees and hang like a draping curtain of color from the branches.

7) Jacaranda Trees. When the
blooms of this plant fall from the tree the ground resembles a lush purple carpet. Totally fabulous! They are all over Kenya … including the city of Nairobi.

8) Amaryllis. So beautiful.

9) Sunflowers just beg to be loved.

10) Snapdragons. These were my absolute favorite flower as a child and my mother had many different colors planted in the flower beds around our home.

11) This is the bloom of the Passion Fruit. Read
the story behind the flower.

Frangipani. The leaf of this tree looks like a camel foot. Interesting, huh?

13) Daisy! Simple. Stunning!

“The earth laughs in flowers.” ~e.e. cummings

Music Meme-ology

Okay fellow music lovers. I stole this meme from Caffeinated Librarian who stole it from someone else and tweaked a few rules. Still, I had a childlike “I want to play too” moment so here we go:

  • Put your iPod or music player on your computer on random.
  • Post the first four lines from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song (Skip repeat artists).
  • Skip songs that have the title in the first four lines.
  • Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.

Don’t cheat! (No Google. No Yahoo! No search engines.)

“Let’s play fair children.” ~The Mummy, Film (1999)

1) We lead two different lives
Just like two lines that never cross
And here we are together
Standing closer than we are
(Secret, Heart)

2) Debbie just hit the wall
She never had it all
One Prozac a day
Husband's a CPA
(~t~: 1985, Bowling for Soup)

3) There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
(~t~: In My Life, The Beatles)

4) These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last. Look around now.
These are the days of the beggars
And the choosers.
(Praying For Time, George Michael)

5) Angel of Mercy
How did you find me?
Where did you read my story?
Pulled from the papers
(Mercy, OneRepublic)

6) Playground school bell rings again,
Rain clouds come to play again,
Has no one told you she's not breathing?
Hello, I'm your mind giving you someone to talk to,
(Hello, Evanescence)

7) All veils and misty
Streets of blue
Almond looks
That chill divine
(Mystify, INXS)

8) I lie awake on a long, dark night
I can't seem to tame my mind
Slings and arrows are killing me inside
Maybe I can't accept the life that's mine
(Weathered, Creed)

9) Little child
Dry your crying eyes
How can I explain
The fear you feel inside
(When the Children Cry, White Lion)

10) Ah keep your eyes on the road,
Your hands upon the wheel.
Keep your eyes on the road
Your hands upon the wheel.
(Roadhouse Blues, The Doors)

11) I rolled up my sleeves today
Cause I thought that this was over
But then you called to say
You forgot that broach of your mother's
(Nothing Good About Goodbye, Hinder)

12) I hold on so nervously
To me and my drink
I wish it was cooling me
But so far, has not been good
(~t~: Paralyzer, Finger Eleven)

13) Looking out for love
In the night so still
Oh I’ll build you a kingdom
In that house on the hill
(Big Love, Fleetwood Mac)

14) Dime porque lloras
De felicidad
Y porque te ahogas
Por la soledad
(No Me Ames, Jennifer Lopez & Marc Antony)

15) We dreamers have our ways
Of facing rainy days
And somehow we survive
We keep the feelings warm
(I Made it Through the Rain, Barry Manilow)

16) Your cruel device
Your blood, like ice
One look could kill
My pain, your thrill
(Poison, Alice Cooper)

17) Ain't there something I can give you
In exchange for everything you give to me
Read my mind and make me feel just fine
When I think my peace of mind is out of reach
(Giving You The Best That I've Got, Anita Baker)

18) Rainy Night, I'm All Alone
Sittin' Here Waitin' For Your
Voice on the Phone
Fever Turns to Cold, Cold Sweat
(Love Sneaking Up On You, Bonnie Raitt)

19) It's hard for me to say the things
I want to say sometimes
There's no one here but you and me
And that broken old street light
(Thank You For Loving Me, Bon Jovi)

20) Nighttime sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
Slowly, gently, night unfurls its splendour
(mellifluous dark: Music of the Night, Phantom of the Opera)
This particular version is Gerard Butler from the more recent film.

“May the force be with you.” ~Star Wars IV: A New Hope, Film (1977)

I will make an attempt to post the correct title/artist and who guessed it right first for each song. That is … if my readers choose to play along. C’mon! Work with me here.

Cranky Consumer

“Who gets the risks? The risks are given to the consumer, the unsuspecting consumer and the poor work force. And who gets the benefits? The benefits are only for the corporations, for the money makers.” ~Cesar Chavez, American Activist

Today I had to willingly enter “
the evil empire," also known as “the house that Sam Walton built” or Wal-Mart for those of you who were not following along. I absolutely abhor that place but in the economy of today I have reached the point where, as a single mother, I can no longer afford to shop at the local grocery. I may hate Wal-Mart but they will take over the world one day with their discount prices. Still, food prices have risen substantially over the last month and the sticker shock that I experienced at the check-out was the icing on my cranky consumer cake.

It began with having to enter the store on a Saturday to begin with. A reminder: I live in Redneck Hell, USA. On Saturday all the folks from the country pile their fifteen children into their old beat up pick up trucks and come to the “city” to shop for the week at Wal-Mart and there I was in the midst of them. Dang it. With too many people to dodge in the aisles and inflated prices my mood was bound to get worse.

Riddle me this: When Saturday is the largest shopping day of the week in this region why would you only have 4 of 16 check-out lanes open … two of those express lanes. Yeah – there’s logic for you. And, of course, I got in line behind the one old bat purchasing way too much cat food among her myriad of purchases. Not only that – she wrote a check. A check! Who writes checks anymore? Did she have the attendant use the handy-dandy check printer? No. She stood their and slowly … oh so slowly filled out her stupid little check. Guess what though – that wasn’t it. Oh no. Not at all. She had to read over her receipt and go through all her bags before she left the lane – itemizing everything line by line. Cranky. I was cranky and, based on the final amount of my own receipt, I am likely to be a pretty cranky consumer for quite some time.

Barking Mad, I Am

“Humor is reason gone mad.” ~Groucho Marx, American Comedian & Actor

I was half-heartedly watching
Nashville Star last night with Big K (my musical eldest child – musical child … musical show) when, during a commercial break, the network ran an extremely fast promo for this Dateline NBC show that was to follow our program. (Click that link and the rest of this will make sense.)

As I was only partially listening to the programming to begin with - the advertisements held even less of my interest. I heard something about towers and dogs and death. I don’t know. What I did hear was the voice of my child and then, of course, motherhood obliges me to respond. It’s late. I’m tired. I have a bizarre sense of humor anyway. This is what happens:

Big K: Mom.
Me: Hmmmm?
Big K: What is a Tower Dog?
Me: Someone who climbs towers and …
(long pause here for my brain that wasn’t paying attention to attempt to formulate some sort of answer) … barks.

At this response Big K dissolves into uncontrollable fits of laughter which are highly contagious and, while I do crack myself up on a regular basis, I start laughing because of how hard he is laughing and we both sit there for five minutes with tears streaming down our cheeks. We giggle. We laugh. We guffaw. We cackle. We cackle harder. Panting, we both slowly … very slowly … calm down. Sigh. Pause.

Big K: I love you, mom.

Oh yeah! It is good to be me.

Monday Mosaic #5 – The Written Word

I love to read. No shock, I know, but I really do adore the written word. Lately I have not been doing as much reading as I usual. Shame, really. Maybe that is why I have not been feeling fully complete. Perhaps.

Today I bring you a mosaic of photographs relating to a few of my favorite authors and poets along with some of their words that I treasure.

Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC, USA – I could lose myself in this library forever and be extremely happy about it.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.

~William Shakespeare, As You Like It

2. Harry Potter – If you did not know then you have been living under a rock.
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” ~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

3. Blatantly obvious is this one.
"There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures, the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences." ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

4. Dickens. Good reads! Deep reads.
" . . .suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape." ~Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

5. Many people do not realize the musical ‘Wicked’ is based off a book.
“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.” ~Gregory Maguire, Mirror Mirror

6. Canterbury Tales. Lovely.
“Forbid us something, and that thing we desire.” ~Geoffrey Chaucer

7. poem 43. Yes, I know you can read. I thought it was a cool picture.
if strangers meet
life begins-
not poor not rich
(only aware)
kind neither
nor cruel
(only complete)
i not not you
not possible;
only truthful
if strangers (who
deep our most are
selves) touch:

(and so to dark)

~e.e. cummings, if strangers meet

8. This would be an artist’s rendering of a scene from ‘The Cask of Amantillado.’
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” ~Edgar Allan Poe, “Eleonora”

9. Narnia!!
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~C.S. Lewis

10. Movie poster for Dracula with actor Gary Oldman.
"I have learned not to think little of any one's belief, no matter how strange it may be. I have tried to keep an open mind, and it is not the ordinary things of life that could close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they be mad or sane." ~Bram Stoker, Dracula

11. Jacob’s Ladder
EVER seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind doth move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart,
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears.
Ah! she did depart!

Soon after she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

~William Blake, Love’s Secret

12. Bernard Cromwell himself.
“It's fun. I sit down every day and tell stories. Some folk would kill to get that chance.” ~Bernard Cromwell

13. Tapestry based on the King Arthur myth of which this author penned one of my favorite series: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day.
“I reached for sleep and drew it round me like a blanket muffling pain and thought together in the merciful dark.” ~Mary Stewart

14. Tolkien’s magnificent signature.
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

15. This is the beautiful grave of one of my favorite lady poets. I adore her hubby too.
If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say,
I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"—
For these things in themselves, Belovèd, may
Be changed, or change for thee—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry:
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 14

16. This is ‘The Lady of Shalott’ painting by John William Waterhouse, 1888
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy Autumn-fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.

Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
That brings our friends up from the underworld,
Sad as the last which reddens over one
That sinks with all we love below the verge;
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

~Lord Alfred Tennyson; Tears, Idle Tears

There you go. I hope you enjoyed it!

Ssssssshhhh .... Listen!

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering ... these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love ... these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman,'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?'


That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play GOES ON and YOU may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?"

~Dead Poets Society, Film (1989)

Thinking About Not Thinking

“Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking.” ~Clifton Fadiman, American Intellectual

The inability to sleep is back. One week. I managed one week of sleep. Granted, it was on my sofa, but at least I was sleeping. Alas, that blessed time has come to an abrupt halt.

flock of sheep that leisurely pass by
One after one; the sound of rain, and bees
Murmuring; the fall of rivers, winds and seas,
Smooth fields, white sheets of water, and pure sky -
I've thought of all by turns, and still I lie

~William Wordsworth, "To Sleep"

Bloody insomnia.


"The best reason for having dreams is that in dreams no reasons are necessary." ~Ashleigh Brilliant, English Author

If I had the money that I will never have to build the dream home that I will never build ... it would look something much like this:

"I walked beside the evening sea and dreamed a dream that could not be; the waves that plunged along the shore said only: 'Dreamer, dream no more!'" ~George William Curtis, American Author

Synchronized Strangers

“Everyone has a gripping stranger in their lives, Andy, a stranger who unwittingly possesses a bizarre hold over you. Maybe it's the kid in cut-offs who mows your lawn or the woman wearing white shoulders who stamps your book at the library - a stranger who, if you were to come home and find a message from them on your answering machine saying, "Drop everything. I love you. Come away with me now to Florida," you'd follow them.” ~Douglas Copeland

Strangers. I have not oft met a stranger … at least no one remains a stranger around me for very long. Give me a few minutes and you will feel like you have known me your whole life. Still, have you ever passed by someone on the street or made eye contact with someone across a crowded restaurant and had that instantaneous connection that made you want to run away with them forever? I have. Weird, it is. I will not call it Love as I do not believe in Love at first sight … but there is undeniably something between you … something more than just raw physical attraction. Chemistry. You are momentarily held in their grip and though you may never see them again the encounter is strong enough to be stored away in a special memory compartment reserved specifically for those rainy days when you need to remember that someone, somewhere … if only for a moment … was completely in sync with you.

Have You Slapped a Dead Poet Today?

“I have a ‘carpe diem’ mug and, truthfully, at six in the morning the words do not make me want to seize the day. They make me want to slap a dead poet.” ~Joanne Sherman

I am not a morning person. Yes, I wake up cranky which is why I do not own a ‘carpe diem’ coffee mug. I would have broken it by now. This is not a new phenomenon. Even in childhood I was not an early riser. In fact, the older I get the harder it is getting for me to haul myself out of bed each morning. For two years I had the excuse of a medicinal haze to blame for my inability to rise fully awake. Having changed medications … well, that excuse is no longer valid and I still can not wake up in the morning.

I do not own an alarm clock. Did you know that alarm clocks are not made to withstand being thrown against a wall? Well, they aren’t. I have proof … in pieces. Actually, I have discovered in recent years that manufacturers now make alarm clocks shaped like baseballs or grenades that will not shut off until impact with a wall is obtained. Fat lot of good this would do me. I would throw it and immediately fall back asleep. Yep, I can do that. I can turn an alarm off and instantaneously go back to sleep. So, how do I get up each morning? Trust me; my “internal clock” is of no use. No, I use the alarm feature on my cell phone. Why? Well, I have to have my cell phone. I can not afford to damage it and somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remember this at dawn and I am kind to the poor little device. Oh, I curse at it and hit the snooze. Yes, you can snooze the alarm on a cell phone. I know for a fact that the snooze on my cell will go off every ten minutes for exactly one hour. No more. No less. I have discovered this through a great deal of trial and error … and a wee bit of oversleeping.

It makes no difference if I go to bed at 2100 (9pm, people … get with the program) or midnight. I can sleep three hours or nine hours or any number in between and the morning result will always be the same. In theory, I should rise between 0600 and 0630 each day. In reality I usually get up closer to 0645. Of course, at that point I am rushing myself and children in order to get out the door and get them to where they need to go (dressed and fed) before I walk into my office at exactly 0800 … usually with my wet hair up in a clip or ponytail and having managed mascara and lipstick while in my vehicle. Caffeine has no affect, but I fill up my mug with steaming coffee anyway (as I adore coffee) … eat some instant oatmeal at my desk … check my email … all in a sleepy haze before I start functioning at full capacity somewhere between 1030 and 1100. Lucky for me, my boss doesn’t mind. She knows I will get my workload done.

Sidebar: I know what you are thinking. Well, those of you who read my little stories on a regular basis … I do know what you are thinking. You are trying to make sense of the dynamic I have going between not being able to get up in the morning and my recurring insomnia. If I am not sleeping to begin with then how can I have trouble with the waking hours? The truth is that I have no trouble if I am not sleeping. I simply go two or three days without sleep but, thankfully, I seem to have solved my bouts of insomnia for the time being (knock on wood). I sleep on my couch. Yes, my couch. Why I can sleep there, but not in my bed, is a mystery. It is a conundrum I am not working overtime to solve as I am thrilled to be sleeping at all.

So, should you happen to meet me between the hours of 0600 and 1100 on any given day and I am less then civil please know I really am not angry. I am just not awake - not fully anyway. A cheery, “Good morning!” will probably garner a sideways glance of disdain and if you are bold enough to actually throw an obnoxious “carpe diem” my way I might just mentally slap you like I would the dead poet. My day will get seized. It just will not happen until mid-morning.

“Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.” ~William Feather

Monday Mosaic #4 - Scent

“But soft, methinks I scent the morning air.” ~Shakespeare

My children are obsessed with favorites. What is your favorite color? Favorite food? Most favored possession? Do you have a favorite book? Favorite car? It is an endless cycle of inquiries. They are also quite adept at conjuring hypothetical questions to help ferret out what would be a favorite should I not provide them with an immediate answer. Questions like, “If you could give up one of your senses, what would it be?” I remember asking that question myself as a child and yet … I have never been able to answer it. I am rather fond of my senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. I do not want to lose any of them.

Today, I bring you a few of my favorite scents …

1) Cinnamon; 2) Salty Ocean Air; 3) Coffee; 4) Fresh Cut Grass; 5) Lemons; 6) Cilantro; 7) Dark Chocolate; 8) Rain; 9) Books

“Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains...” ~Diane Ackerman, American Writer


I do not have much today except to remind myself to Celebrate Life!

"Live all you can; it's a mistake not to. It doesn't so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven't had that what HAVE you had?" - Henry James

" . . . as long as the heart beats, as long as body and soul keep together, I cannot admit that any creature endowed with a will has need to despair of life." - Jules Verne

"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." - Charlotte Bronte

"We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even if we never quite succeed. Life would be a sorry business without them. With them it's grand and great." - Lucy Maud Montgomery

"He has spent his life best who has enjoyed it most." - Samuel Butler

"And, above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you very much at your own reckoning." - Anthony Trollope

"My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest." - Charles Dickens

I do not just write ...

… I also have this little hobby.

“Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself . . .” ~Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

These are mere portions of each work although they are all individual animal portraits. I had to crop them into squares for the mosaic maker to work so the full effect is lost. Still, I think you get the idea. My signature (with maiden name) is visible on the waterbuck. The other three are a lion cub, a leopard and a crested (or crowned) crane. It has been many, many a year since I have put pen on paper to make a small black dot and from that dot
stippled my way to a full piece of art. I guess it is art. Yes, it has been many years. I do not even know if I still possess the ability.

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.” ~Oscar Wilde, Irish Dramatist

Anything but this ...

“The last thing to age in somebody is their heart." ~Rocky Balboa, Film (2006)

I do not mind aging. Really. I tell people my age (33) with no reservations and I make no attempt at pretending to be younger. Age is relative. Think young, be young. Still, I can not deny that I am getting older and in general I really, truly do not mind … or even think about the concept too much. It happens to be one of the few things in life that I do not overanalyze. In all likelihood, the fact that I grew up in a society where elders are still revered probably has something to do with my mentality. I have a few signs that I am aging, laugh lines and that sort of thing, but for the most part I have had few outward symptoms … until …

I had heartburn last night. Of course, having never suffered from actual heartburn before, I could have been having a heart attack and not known the difference. Scary thought that. As I am alive and kicking this morning we will assume that my self diagnosis yesterday eve was accurate. Guess who has no heartburn medication/antacid in her home? Me. That’s who.

I digress. I'm so good at that.

My point is that I am willing to tackle almost any aspect of aging … anything at all … anything but this – the heartburn & indigestion. I happen to like hot food. No, I adore it. I will change my diet for the sake of weight loss, but I do not want my body telling me I can no longer eat the food I like. Last night I made pasta (not too spicy) for me and my dudes. There were no unusual or unfamiliar ingredients, but … wow, did I ever think I was dying. Seriously. Bring me wrinkles (there are a few here and there)! Bring me arthritis (already have a little of that)! Memory loss (there are a few I could live without)! Gray hair! Whatever! Anything, Lord, but this …

“If you are what you eat, I only want to eat the good stuff.” ~Ratatouille, Film (2007)

New Classics

I love lists. Well, I do not love all lists. I actually dislike some … like “to do” lists. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy a good “top ten” list or “end of the decade wrap up” list or a list I write about myself.

Lately I have been quite taken with
The New Classics from Entertainment Weekly that celebrate the top 1000 contributions to movies, TV shows, books, music and more from the last 25 years. These are GREAT lists and I highly recommend that you go take a peek.

The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists of "Ten Best". ~H. Allen Smith, American Journalist

Less Mental = More Hungry

“We of the craft are all crazy.” ~Lord Byron, English Poet

I have not been myself of late. I am me, but I have not been a good stable version of me. The ugly troll bipolar awoke from its medicinally induced coma. My body apparently adapted to drug of choice as body will tend to do after an extended period of time and … well … I was not so nice there for a bit. I do not mean to suggest that I am all happy, happy, joy, joy all the time to begin with, but those who have to interact with me on a daily basis got a good quick peek into what varying bouts of mania and melancholy can do to a person as it takes the host (that would be me) some time to realize that things just aren’t right and that it needs help.

Two weeks ago I hit smacked collided face first into “rock bottom” at alarming speed after four days of mania induced insomnia. What followed was two days (the weekend) of unbearable bouts of weeping. Tuesday morning I made an appointment with the doctor. That was my epiphany day. I am sure the cartoonish light bulb over my head was quite evident as the realization hit me, “Duh! I’m bipolar. How could I possibly forget? My meds must not be working anymore. Stupid drugs.” (Note: Bipolar is not something I actually forget. I am simply the last person in this galaxy to realize that I have skipped out of orbit and am now careening wildly through space.)

I adore my doctor. He always makes the time to actually sit and listen and he never rushes me. I find that, sadly, this is a rare quality in physicians today. I am glad I have a good one. I confessed to him that, in retrospect, I had been experiencing symptoms for at least two (maybe three) months. I was tired of feeling and acting like Gollum on crack …

“Gollum: Sméagol... Why does he cry, Sméagol?
Smeagol: Cruel men hurts us. Master tricksed us.
Gollum: Of course he did. I told you he was tricksy. I told you he was false.
Smeagol: Master is our friend... our friend.
Gollum: Master betrayed us.
Smeagol: No, not it's business. Leave us alone.
Gollum: Filthy little hobbites. They stole it from us.
Smeagol: No... No.
Faramir: What did they steal?
Gollum: Myyy PRECIOUSSS.”

~Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Film (2002)

(I shouldn't have to clarify but ... just in case: Gollum & Smeagol are the same creature!)

Got it? My precious is not a ring. It is my sanity. I do embrace my melancholia to a point, but the line between embracing the craziness and suicidal thought is very, very, very slim.

Doctor listened. I talked. We discussed varying options and I have new medication. A fortnight later and I feel much less like a mental case. In fact, I believe this new pill is working better than anything else I have tried to date. I feel really good. There is just one thing ...

I am SO hungry! Hungry! Hungry! Hungry!

The one big side-effect of this medication is the increase in appetite. This is not such a good thing for a girl my size. Crap! You know what though? I have already made a lot of lifestyle changes in regard to getting healthier. I am 100% willing to make more sacrifices and changes to keep from gaining additional weight.

This I can do for sanity.

“When a superior intellect and a psychopathic temperament coalesce . . . in the same individual, we have the best possible condition for the kind of effective genius that gets into the biographical dictionaries.” ~William James, Pioneering American Psychologist

Monday Mosaic #3 - Prior Wandering

Wanderlust. I have it. Right now I have an extremely bad case seeing as I have not traveled in quite some time. Still, I gather that my regular readers are rather weary of listening to me lament about how I have had no opportunities to pack my suitcase and dust off my passport of late. The mosaic I present to you today is composed of photographs of places I have already traveled and sights I have already seen. I should be more grateful. Perhaps this will serve as a reminder. Please note: This does not diminish my desire to go new places or revisit many of the destinations presented.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” - Pat Conroy, American Author

1) Paris, France; 2) New York, NY, USA; 3) Barcelona, Spain; 4) Bermuda; 5) Mombasa, Kenya; 6) Rome, Italy; 7) New River Gorge Bridge, WV, USA; 8) Lion Hill at Waterloo, Belgium; 9) Copenhagen, Denmark; 10) San Antonio, TX, USA; 11) Amsterdam, The Netherlands; 12) Pompeii, Italy; 13) Earth; 14) Gettysburg, PA, USA; 15) Dachau, Germany; 16) Niagara Falls, Canada; 17) Milan, Italy; 18) Rothenburg on the Romantic Road, Germany; 19) London, England, UK; 20) Vienna, Austria; 21) Nairobi, Kenya; 22) Disney World in Orlando, FL, USA; 23) Florence, Italy; 24) New Orleans, LA, USA; 25) Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. (I claim no ownership of individual photographs. They came from all over the web.)

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain, American Author


I did not intend to spend part of this weekend reminiscing through old blog entries, but I finally decided to go salvage my old stuff from Yahoo 360 and MySpace so that I have them for future reference. So, there you have it. I found myself doing more then just copy … paste … copy … paste … save. I started to read. Reminiscence came with the reading.

Two years ago this week I was wrapped up in World Cup Soccer 2006 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was premiering in theaters. Italy won the World Cup and now I have to wait for South Africa 2010 before that event takes place again. And, well, the second installment of Pirates of the Caribbean left me wishing the third one was not a full year away. Of course, that moment has now come and gone.

One year ago this week I was devouring the book
Captivating. This simple book did a lot to restore some much needed self-esteem and it shows through the course of entries I copied.

I started blogging on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2006. Why? Not a clue. Why not? I have been sharing bits about my life online ever since. There were some sporadic months. Most notably were the months preceding and during my divorce. I was still writing quite prolifically but I kept most of those to myself.

Well, here I am. Two and a half years later and I am still writing. Still blogging. Maybe someday I will have a reason to go bloginiscing again. Until then, I bring you one of my prior entries on this very subject … reminiscing that is.

"With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man's past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame." ~George Eliot, Middlemarch


Reminisce: to recall past experiences, events, etc.; indulge in reminiscence.

Do you reminisce? Come on . . . admit it . . . even the most stoic and unemotional individual takes a few moments to remember from time to time. I don't fall into reminiscence nearly as much as I used to in my life. I guess I'm just a little too jaded. Or, perhaps, I feel guilty because it does seem indulgent: as a single mother I should be doing something more productive with my time. It does take time, well - in my case it does. For me there is no such thing as a 'moment' of reminiscence. The act of remembering, for me, becomes an endeavor. It involves pictures and letters and yearbooks and mementos. Yes, I'm one of those. I have it all and this weekend every bit of it managed to find it's way into my living room. (There are some of you who should be glad I don't have a scanner readily accessible as I found some decent blackmail material lurking at the bottom of my photo boxes.)

Yes, this weekend I did reminisce but I had to proceed with caution and a guarded mindset. I find reminiscing to be a slightly dangerous pursuit if not approached with caution. One can get caught up in the past and the eternal "what if?" questions. However, reminiscing as a whole can also be healthy. It reminds us of who we are. It reminds us of where we come from. It reminds us that there are those who still care for us just as we care for them . . . regardless of how long you may have been apart.

So take some time to remember someone this week. You might be surprised to find out they remember you too. (Originally posted: February 26, 2007)

“I guess a memory is never finished as long as you are alive.” ~Before Sunset, Film (2004)

Why, this is very midsummer madness!

"Then followed that beautiful season… Summer…
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
lay as if new created in all freshness of childhood."

~Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow


Do you remember the anticipation that word used to induce in you as a child? I know I do. I would count down the school days left until summer vacation and create scenarios for all the things I wanted to do with my freedom despite the fact that summer vacation fell during our colder months. Climbing trees. Hide-and-Seek in the tea fields blanketing the Kenya highlands. Hikes through the woods. Trips to the beaches of Mombasa. Safari game drives. Days spent swimming at Limuru Country Club. Camping on Lake Naivasha. Running barefoot around Brackenhurst. Fun. More fun. Even more fun. (Forgive me for those of you who don't comprehend the references which obviously relate to activities that took place during my childhood in Kenya.)

"Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." ~Henry James

I miss summertime.

Oh ... it still comes and goes, but without much fuss and with much less gratification. We are creeping up on midsummer here in North America and what have I done? Nothing. I've gone to work as expected like a responsible adult and watched the summer pass me by. Midsummer madness, it is. My children have grown blonder and tanner while I have spent more then one moment stealing glimpses out the panoramic windows of the lodge where I work. I have envied the sail boaters, water skiers, tubers and those who are generally enjoying themselves in the warm summer waters of DeGray Lake. Granted, I have a general dislike for lake water but I would still prefer to be out there as opposed to in my office with no windows.

"There's a very valid reason for summer vacation: the human brain needs rest." ~Summer School, Film 1987

Why – in the United States – do adults not get summer vacation? We have to work and work and work in order to build up a bare minimum of two weeks off for an entire year … and that is if you are one of the lucky ones. The rest of the world seems to understand how necessary vacation time is for the standard adult. The city of Paris (France … not Arkansas or Texas) practically shuts down during the month of August … even major restaurants. And yet, we Americans just keep on pushing ourselves to the point of cardiac arrest and forgetting that we do need to slow down. Only our teachers take off during the summer and many of them are bi-vocational and have a second job to occupy their time from May to August. Why? Why do we do this to ourselves?

For those of you whose employers provide generous vacation packages which you use to spend a few short weeks with your children each summer … be grateful. The rest of us who either don't have the funds or the vacation time will just keep working toward that goal. Me? I work in hospitality anyway and the odds of actually taking time off during peak vacation months are laughable at best.

I will say it again, “I miss summertime.”

"Why, this is very midsummer madness." ~William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night


What better way to continue my ranting and raving about how we humans need to be more accepting of each other, and briefly acknowledge the stars and stripes, then to quote the following movie on this American holiday:

“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night!" We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” ~Independence Day, Film (1996)

I do not know if it is vanity or ignorance, but many Americans appear to believe that this country is the only one to ever gain its freedom and independence … which, of course, is like claiming this is the only country with blue sky overhead. Independence Day is celebrated universally around the world; we just do not celebrate it simultaneously on the same calendar day of the year.

Here are a few varying days of freedom. Those listed also gained their independence from the United Kingdom ... as I had to narrow down my selections somehow. (Disclaimer: This list is by no means complete and comes to you this day courtesy of
Wikipedia so let us hope they are accurate.)

10 July ~ Bahamas (Want to buy an island?)
21 September ~ Belize (They have black orchids. Cool!)
01 January ~ Brunei (Financially, this country is doing JUST fine.)
01 July ~ Canada (Maple leaf, anyone? Eh?)
01 October ~ Cyprus (Celebrated, not actual … August 16. Odd.)
18 February ~ The Gambia (Tiny little country that it is.)
15 August ~ India (This is also my birthday. Woo hoo!)
06 August ~ Jamaica (Yeah mon!)
12 December ~ Kenya (HARAMBEE!)
01 October
~ Nigeria (A place likely to never make my wanderlust list.)
29 June ~ Seychelles (Sunrises and sunsets over the Indian Ocean.)

“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed - else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President


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