I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell –
my designs sell out!

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Juice"

When I went to the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), my classmates and I were welcomed and illuminated by the president of the college, Joseph Canzani.  "We will teach you to see what you've never seen before!"  My classmates got years of humor from his pompous and pretentious speech, but there was some truth to it.  If you really want to understand something, you've really got to look.

I know we've all seen the inside of a tomato.  Maybe you've studied it a little.  The act of reproducing what we see forces us to study it quite a bit more.  We think we know what it looks like, and what we think we know can overshadow what's really true.  We have to be willing to let go of what we think we know in order to truly learn what is.

For instance, I "knew" tomatoes are symmetrical.  They aren't.  They're approximately similar from side to side.  They have veins.  The seeds aren't mathematically perfect.  The inner jelly is an alien mix of red, brown, purple, and phosphorescent green.  I could go on.  Get to know your own tomatoes.  See what you've never seen before!

Once you've studied all of the wonders of tomato-ness, what then?  Do you share your new-found tomato awareness?  Don't get stuck on the tomato example.  Whether it's a tomato or listening to the other side of a political argument, have you truly looked at the issue, or are you just operating on your assumptions about it?

This week, I've been watching the Public Broadcast Service's (PBS) documentary on the Vietnam War.  I lived through these events when I was a child, and I've always been aware that the war greatly effects my world view.  I'm watching the series to get another look at those times.  In essence, to test my assumptions about the tomato.

The other night, I watched a Buddhist monk set himself on fire and burn to death.  Imagine what that was like when I was a small child.  I saw other children crying, old people crying, soldiers crying, houses burning, piles of bodies, stacks of coffins, mutilated POWs.

This Ken Burns series is excessively long in my opinion, but it's nothing like my childhood when tv was war all the time.  It wasn't like 9/11 when people acknowledged the PTSD generated by one day's footage.  People, especially kids, got counseling.  In my day, kids didn't have any real thoughts or feelings to worry about.  They'll grow out of it, and counseling is hippy dippy crap anyway.

There were some positive things that came out of all this televised violence.  I understood people of different races and places had feelings.  They bleed, they die.  Old white guys in government can be dead wrong, self-absorbed, and power hungry.  The war made me more empathetic and a committed pacifist.  In some ways, maybe it would be better if we still showed the sins of war on tv?  Maybe we'd stop the wars we're currently fighting and put that money into health care and education.

Watching the show is unpleasant for me, but I think there's a chance that it will let me see those times more clearly, to see as I've never seen before.  Though I have to admit, I'd rather study tomatoes.

Friday, September 15, 2017

"Jazz"

This week's word instantly had me singing "Come on babe, why don't we paint the town?  And all that jazz."  I've been known to burst into musicals when circumstances require it.  There's a lyric for every human experience or weather condition.  "Oh, what a beautiful morning!"  "Soon it's gonna rain.  I can feel it."  I fondly remember sitting on a fence with Beth having a boisterous musicals sing-off while her future husband shook his head and laughed.  Hey, he knew what he was getting into.

I produced musicals and other entertainments at a community theater.  I hired directors, put in my 2¢ during auditions, sold advertising, begged donations, wrote PSAs, researched lighting and sound upgrades, maintained databases, corralled volunteers, and handed out drinks backstage.  That's just the surface tasks.  There were a lot more things to do.  I never wanted to be a producer, but I loved it.

Art is a poor career for anyone who likes big paychecks and steady employment, but it was the only career I wanted.  I've been laid off numerous times, and I've done whatever I had to do when I had to do it.  Sometimes I've been happily surprised that I liked the other jobs.  Some sucked and I sang "Working in the chain gang" (Jim Croce version).

This week, I watched a PBS show about Tyrus Wong, the artist behind "Bambi".  His influence was especially unusual since he was a Chinese immigrant, and the movie was released in 1942.  That was a hard time to be Chinese in America.

He was an awesome artist.  Think of all those beautiful backgrounds and emotional colors in Bambi.  He got screwed out of full credit for his work on the film.  He lost his job and picked asparagus to feed his family, which I have to imagine is right up there with my shoveling horse manure in unpleasantness.  Maybe worse?  At least I wasn't hunched over in a field all day every day in the blazing sun, but he didn't have to smell manure and listen to opera.  Tyrus got a job at another studio and set the visual tone for many famous movies.  He painted dishes.  He made kites.  He lived a very long and fulfilling life.

There comes a time when many of us find ourselves wondering why life is hard.  Why isn't it going the way I thought it would, or why don't I get the rewards I've earned?

Many notables through history had their own asparagus or manure periods.  Sometimes the side paths we take are unexpectedly fun like managing a theater.  Whatever we do, we take those experiences with us into our future adventures, and I think they make us better, stronger in the end.  At the very least, they can make us more humble and interesting.

I spent a stupid amount of time painting 3 large backgrounds yesterday.  At least, the plan was for them to be backgrounds.  I keep contemplating my choices.  I think I've been influenced by Tyrus Wong's less is more style and keep wondering if maybe I should let the paintings be what they are without embellishments?  I also considered putting a trumpet on one of them to fit "jazz" better, but that's just silly -- but no less silly that the paw print my puppy added at the bottom.

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Recipe"

I went to a farmer's market and bought an eggplant.  I don't like eggplant.  I couldn't resist its purple beauty, or maybe its sensuous texture?  I don't know.  All I knew was that I had an eggplant without a plan.  I dimly thought I could make an eggplant lasagna, which is a travesty of lasagna, but the best I could think of for an eggplant.

I ignored the eggplant while making a giant pot of potato/cauliflower soup.  This was too much soup for my freezer, so I spent time defrosting and reorganizing, contemplating a previous impulse purchase of squid.  I had gone to an Italian grocery store with an Italian.  Maybe I got swept up with her enthusiasm for cooking?  I plunked the squid into the sink to defrost with the vague thought that squid was somewhat like clams, so maybe it would work in the potato soup like clam chowder.

I cut squid rings and lightly sautéed them.  Mmm.  I don't like the way squid tentacles look, so I chopped them up into indistinguishable bits, then considered my counter full of tomatoes.  I got out the eggplant and considered... yep, sauce.  More chopping... onions, garlic, pepper... oregano and basil from the garden... OMG!  I made a wonderful, accidental thing out of food I don't really like.  My dog confirmed my assessment of this sauce.  She danced in ecstatic circles.

The end result is that I have a lot of healthy food, and I spent very little money.  The only part that took any real time was chopping, but somebody else could've used a food processor and have been done in no time.  While I chopped, I thought about young'uns who don't know how to cook.  They're forever dependent on restaurants and processed foods.  That's fattening, expensive, and vitamin-deficient.  They'll never taste calamari eggplant sauce -- which I know they think they don't want, but they're missing out.

I worry about the health of young people.  They don't seem to understand food at all.  They're obviously fatter than they should be.  Okay, I'm fatter than I should be too, but they're fat and malnourished.  Or, they're anorexic or bulimic and malnourished.  They're going to suffer unnecessarily and die too young without money in the bank.

Cooking doesn't have to be hard.  Yesterday, I put a little water in a pot, added Swiss chard, put on the lid, turned on the heat... 10 minutes later, food.  To tell the truth, I grazed on the chard before it was even cooked.  Whatever.  Swiss chard is good for you and really easy.  I have a couple of squashes.  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, bake until soft.  Add butter.  These will go in the freezer too for days that I don't feel like cooking.  I nuked an ear of corn in its husk.  Done.  More butter.

Eat real food.  Stop Monsanto from genetically modifying our food.  Buy local.  Buy what's in season.  Grow something.  Learn to cook.

BTW, I figured out why I've been especially plagued by wildlife this year.  My neighbor a couple doors down used to keep a big garden, but he didn't put one in this year.  I guess it's up to me to feed all the critters.  To make matters worse, my groundhog got a girlfriend.  She's the biggest groundhog I've ever seen, brimming with health, with a shimmering coat.  She eats vegetables.  My vegetables.  I'll admit I took time to admire her and even forgot to send her death rays for a few minutes.  My original groundhog looks at her with absolute adoration.  I dread the inevitable babies, who will also be terribly cute and glistening with (my) vegetable health.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

"Samurai"

There will be a lot of swords in response to "Samurai", so I thought I'd go with armor.  Self-defense is good, and Samurai armor is interesting.  It's light-weight, flexible, and ingeniously designed to baffle weapons.  It certainly beats the heavy steel cans European knights wore.  Japanese soldiers could even perform basic toilet functions without the help of a squire.

While making my samurai armor, I've been thinking about what to say about self-defense.  It's a touchy subject for me because I've been attacked in various ways throughout my life.  Discussing my armor feels like admitting vulnerabilities that I don't want to share.

Yet... being vulnerable is important to communicating.  I listened to a program the other day that talked about how people addicted to their smart phones are more anxious and depressed people than those who aren't glued to their devices.  Think about it, if all you're doing is reading about others' perfect lives and inspirational retweets, or if your sharing is limited to 140 characters, how much of yourself have you shared?  Why would someone care about you?  You haven't given them much to care about.

The same is true with creative expression.  Aren't you touched when a singer breaks down during a song because the lyrics touch something vital inside?  The singer's sobs might cause you to cry too.  The touching lyrics were written about the most moving or painful experiences.  It takes courage to share those feelings.  Whatever your medium, if you want to be great, you've got to be vulnerable.

When you're vulnerable, there will be people who will take that as a sign to attack.  Think of any person who is widely admired and you will find trolls in the margins.  It's a balancing act to be both open and protected.  You don't have to be a movie star to have malicious stalkers.  Maybe they won't shoot you dead as happened to John Lennon, or chase you to your death like Princess Diana, but they can still do their best to make you miserable.  Will others' malicious behaviors still your voice?

It's oft-said that you are unique.  No one else was born with exactly your talents, living in the same time and circumstances.  You have something to express in your own unique way.  Will you?

We have to look at the armor we've grown so accustomed to wearing.  Are we protecting ourselves from others, or are we protecting ourselves from ourselves?  Are we brave enough to let others see what we have inside?  Can we face our own fears?

It seems to me the ideal way to live is akin to samurai armor.  Light-weight and comfortable, it served its purpose without limiting movement.  In other words, you don't have to let all of your vulnerabilities go unprotected.  Have armor, but have armor that lets your light shine through.

Friday, August 25, 2017

"Shoes"

When I was a teenager, I put thumbtacks in the soles of my shoes.  When bored in class, I'd quietly tap dance under my desk.  How many classmates did I irritate?  My tapping started as an accident; I stepped on a thumbtack.  I felt like Quasimodo unevenly tapping down the school hall, so I added a thumbtack to the other shoe.  How many silly things are forever trapped in my brain?  Sometimes it seems endless.

A cicada was loudly advertising his romantic desires the other night.  He was so loud I thought he'd gotten into my bedroom, but no, he was outside.  He must've gotten lucky because he eventually shut up, and I fell asleep.  The next day, I found cicada shells all over my few remaining tomato plants.  I used to wear them as jewelry when I was a little kid.  Now, I feel all ew, ew, ew about touching them, and I thought something's wrong about that.  It's just an empty shell.  So what if it has too many legs?  Who taught me to be creeped out by legs?


I sat down and drew cicada studies.  Once I started looking at them, they're really rather interesting.  They have claw feet and bristles all over their legs, which is why they're so easy to wear as jewelry.  They have ugly faces if you look too closely, but their googly eyes are rather cute.  I simply don't understand how a giant insect can squash itself into such a small, hard shell.  I especially don't understand how it could extract it's antennae from that shell.
I'm procrastinating.  I told you in March that I started a book.  Now it's pretty much written, and I need a spectacular letter which will inspire a publisher to publish it.  I swear, writing the book was easier than writing the letter.

I gave the book to a friend and asked for feedback.  She admitted she wasn't psyched to read it.  For some mysterious reason the topic of Catholicism didn't appeal to her.  There's no accounting for taste.  I drove to New York and actually plugged it into the computer for her (which sounds more impressive than it was since I can get to her house in 2 hours, and it's very pleasant to spend time with her at Lake Chautauqua).

She called this morning to chastise me for keeping her up all night because she couldn't put the book down.  (Yay!!!)  She almost called at 1:30 a.m. because she was "laughing my ass off!"  I don't know if this was actually my goal, but sure, I'll take humorous.  It beats pedantic and dull at any rate.  She gave me more words to put in my letter to the publishers: easy to read, informative, inspirational, scathing, appalling, shocking, mind-blowing, laugh out loud hysterical, disturbing...  I wish she'd write my letter for me.

I'm going to try to get a conventional publisher (let me know if you have any contacts!), but I'll self-publish if that doesn't work out.  Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed!

I suppose I'll have to get back to trying to writing my letter, but now I'm daydreaming about a cicada tap dancing amongst the tomatoes.
Purple beans that turn green when cooked.  The groundhog took this to the ground multiple times.  The only thing that saved it was letting the weeds grow taller than the beans.
Swiss Chard -- the groundhog ate this to the ground many times too so I'm happy to have actual leaves

Spaghetti Squash

Found a living example.  He posed very nicely for me.
You've gotta admit he's kind of cute in his cicada kind of way :)

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Mail"

My great grandfather, Thomas Lafayette Lee, was a mail carrier in the days before cars, and a genealogist before libraries, almost in the days of pounding papyrus on the river bank -- well maybe not that far back.  He was born shortly after the American Civil War on June 9, 1870.  His name tells you something about him; Lafayette for the French aristocrat and military officer who aided the US in the Revolutionary War, and Lee... well, that side of the family has been getting some news in the press lately.

"Cousin" Robert E. Lee was intelligent and heroic, Lincoln's first choice to lead the US military when the Civil War started.  Lee inherited slaves from his wife's father, with instructions to free them within five years.  Lee wrote his son, " He has left me an unpleasant legacy".  Lee had runaways chased and whipped, but he did free them. He was a mixed bag of good and not.  I could say similar about my living relatives.  Maybe they should display the statues of him somewhere to explain the Civil War and how prejudice can end up killing millions of people?  That seems current.

The ultimate choice about the statues belongs to the people who still suffer from the legacy of slavery.  I understand there are Southerners who feel they're still suffering too.  My family lost status and money from being on the wrong side of history, and the South remains comparatively poor with lesser schools and health care.  I get it that there are people who hang their regional pride on the valiant fight Lee led when faced with fewer soldiers and less ammunition.  Hanging onto that isn't getting you anywhere.  Even Lee saw that and surrendered at Appomattox.

When my great grandpa was living in post-Civil War poverty, he got a job.  He wrote a family history, and included a description of his days as a mail carrier, earning $702 per year in 1905.  I'd like to share his story.  This is longer than I usually post, but I thought you might find it interesting too.  Imagine it in a heavy Tennessee accent...

I have had many experiences on my route.  Some were pleasant and some were not so good.  I had a fine bunch of patrons... although some were tough characters...  especially... in the mountain section.  However, some... were as fine a bunch of people as could be found anywhere... I liked them all...

I have been in some hard storms.  One time I had to run my horse to get out from under a falling tree.  One day the lightning struck eighteen times near my route.  I came very near being in one of the worst hail storms this country has ever known.  I just did get into a barn before it struck.  Much of the hail was as large as hen and goose eggs.  These sank into the ground as they fell.  Some went crashing through iron roofing.  There was one cyclone that passed over my route...  I was in the edge of another which did lots of damage to property, but no one was hurt.  I have been caught in rising streams of water, as the rocks were rolling under my horse's feet, and almost knocking them down.  I had to stay in one stream of water for almost half a mile in order to ford it...

One day I heard the sound of a run-away team approaching over a hill, while I was going up the grade on the other side in my buggy.  On they came in their mad rush to get away... and the only thing for me to do was to jump from my buggy without delay.  As they neared me my horse became frightened, and turned back.  Down the road he went, ahead of the run-away team, carrying all my mail, stamps, money and everything, with only myself left behind, and truly glad to be there.  My buggy was torn to pieces.  Most of the harness was torn from the horse.  My mail, money and everything was scattered, a piece here and a piece there.  With the assistance of some of my good patrons, we managed to collect all together... Another loaned me a saddle to ride back on, while others recovered the pieces of my buggy and brought it back...

My buggy was struck twice by cars... but fortunately with no serious results.  I have been thrown from my horse by his falling on me.  One time I was thrown clear over his head, landing in front of him.  Such was life on a rural route in the early days... At first our roads were bad... I rode horseback a big part of eighteen years... I have walked many miles with my mail satchel thrown over my shoulder through mud, sleet, snow and ice, over fields, and just any way to get there...

I loved my patrons and I miss the pleasant association with them.  Scarcely a day passes that my mind doesn't go back to the fond memories of meeting with them at the mail boxes, and our having a few pleasant words together.  Especially is this true of the children, all of whom I loved dearly.

I'm glad Great Grandpa got through his hard times with love in his heart.  You can't move forward when you're clutching the memory of mythological glory days and hate to your chest.

BTW, I've given up my rants about wildlife.  The deer ate all the pears.  They're gone.  That's it.  I'm done screaming like a crazy woman (this year), or at least I thought so until I saw they ate my tomato plants too.

Also, in case I wasn't clear enough about what I think about the KKK and Neo-Nazis, I'll let Trae Crowder express his point of view.  Caution, very coarse language.

Friday, August 11, 2017

"Pizza"

A crazy woman was in my back yard yesterday, sputtering incoherent obscenities while chucking wood at a majestic stag placidly chewing on a pear tree -- not just the precious fruit, he was literally eating the tree, leaves, branches, and all.  Since that crazy woman never got to play on an organized baseball team, the serene majesty of the buck was barely disturbed by flying firewood, but he eventually looked up with a puzzled expression.

The crazy woman did some frantic arm waving, her obscenities became somewhat more defined.  The buck did a deer equivalent of a shoulder shrug and moved over a couple of feet.  It took quite a few more threats and wood to get the deer to daintily hop over the fence where he clearly waited for the crazy woman to go away so he could resume his feast.  Wood got chucked into the neighbor's yard, and the aim started to get somewhat more accurate, by which I mean that the logs passed at least within 10' of the blasted animal's aura before he gave up and went away.  "Take your damned ticks with you!"

My dog stood at the edge of the deck with a look of concern.  I mean really, who wants a crazy woman in their yard?  It's a good thing she doesn't have opposable thumbs to call 911 for the people with straightjackets.

I smashed a carpenter ant with my fist and glared at the groundhog.  At least the groundhog had the grace to scamper when I threw a rock in his general vicinity.  Unlike the insane woman chucking firewood, I can throw rocks.  Anybody who has lived by a river can throw a rock.  However, the groundhog didn't run away, it ran under my back porch where he's created a den for himself.  I'm pretty sure it has an entertainment center with surround sound leaching off my electricity.

Then, the neighbor dogs set off the skunk.  The crazy woman burst into new profanity as she ran around the house slamming windows shut.  It took a while to get the crazy woman out of the house.  She futilely slapped at miniature flies in the kitchen.

The wildlife is winning.  I need to import a pack of wolves or maybe a mountain lion.

That was yesterday.  Today was a new day, and I decided to walk to the library.  The weather was iffy, but I felt like taking the 1+ mile walk.  I left my puppy at home because she maxes out at 1 mile lately.  I wore my hat because even though it was 85% overcast, my pasty white sensitive complexion can get sunburned even at night.

Sure enough, the sun broke out on my way to the library.  It was hot and muggy, really, a terrible day for a midday walk.  I got my book, then noticed the sky was very dark.  My hat felt really stupid about then.  The rain started in fat blobs, and then it got serious.  Cascading sheets of needle-sharp drops came down in a 45° torrent, water sloshed over the tops of my shoes, my heavy jeans got sopping wet.  I felt glad for the hat since I wasn't getting pelted in the face.

I started smiling.  I did the obligatory head bob as I passed a miserable, hatless man sloshing in the opposite direction, his leather business notebook soaked with water.  I started laughing.  I smiled and laughed the rest of the way home.  It isn't just the wildlife that's against me, it's all of nature, but it felt great.  Absolutely fantastic.

I actually had to pour the water out of my shoes when I got home.  Money that had been in my pocket is hung up to dry.  Maybe I'll use it to buy a pizza?  Preferably a pizza with venison sausage and groundhog pepperoni on top.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Hair"

I went out for drinks with two friends.  One has fluffy hair like Rhea Perlman on Cheers, but she has regular chemical appointments to straighten it.  The other friend has bouncy curls like Shirley Temple.  She straightens her hair with electrical appliances.  My hair is straight.  I often curl it even though the curls fall out in no time.  Nobody else cares very much about our efforts despite the considerable time we've devoted to washing, drying, fluffing, curling, straightening, spritzing, gelling...

I'd pretty much neglected to get a haircut for the last few years and decided it was time for a change and cut it short.  I got into my closet of chemicals and played with colors.  I wasn't making a fashion statement.  I was just playing.  The joy is that it now my hair takes absolutely no effort whatsoever.

I met a group of people at a casual restaurant.  A woman came in, and even before seating herself, loudly asked, "Is that a menopausal haircut or just a summer cut?!"  I resisted asking in return, "WTF is wrong with you??"  I feel like I should point out that my group is mostly men, but it doesn't matter.  A slam between just us girls is still a slam.  Later, she commented we're near the same age.  We aren't.  She's much older, but she often says that even though she's been corrected many times.  I realize her actions are that of an 8th grade bully, but part of me feels like laughing because her effort to make me feel bad is a sign she thinks the haircut looks good.

I met a couple of friends for dinner, and one of them didn't even notice my haircut.  I guess she's seen it short before, but I'm choosing to think she's focused more on my interior than my exterior.  She's a keeper.

The thing is, nobody really cares that much about what you look like.  Although quite a few people have told me that they really like my hair short, I'm absolutely certain that none of them are spending a whole lot of time thinking about it.  Well, maybe people stuck in the 8th grade mentality, but I didn't even care about those opinions when I was in 8th grade.

I'm not so sure I'll keep my hair short, and I'm not so sure about the color either, but I love how easy it is.  I didn't even comb it to take a picture, just running my fingers through it.  That feels great.  I added some blue and feel like a mallard duck with a streak of teal in my feathers (even if it didn't show up very well in the photo).  I'm torn between adding more colors or just dying it all dark the way it grows naturally -- except white seems to be coming in naturally too, and I'm not ready for that yet.  Maybe it is a menopausal haircut?

The thing is, make your own style.  Express yourself in every medium, whether that's hair, work, hobbies...  Whatever floats your boat, bring it into your life and share it with others.  Don't let the criticism or peer pressure of 8th graders steal your happiness.

Fuchsia.  Yeah, I think I'm feeling fuchsia... I'll be a duck on a flower, or maybe a butterfly :)

Friday, July 28, 2017

"Neighbor"

Let me tell you a ghost story.  Well, sort of a ghost story?  I don't really know what to call it.  One of those what-the-hell-I-don't-understand events.

Let me back up.  I had the nosiest neighbor.  She was friendly.  Too damned friendly.  Before you judge me, you have to understand that she sat in her lawn chair, feet from my back door, waiting to pounce on me while blasting country music.  Not the better kinds of CW.  I had to listen to endless twangy repetitions of how the wife left and took the truck and dog but left the kids.  God, I hate country music.

I put up a 12' long privacy fence, just enough to block her direct view of my back door.  She moved her chair 12'.  I added more fence.  She moved her chair back a bit more -- but the "music" originated from the same place.  She just turned up the volume.  I blasted some rock in return.  One time, I was scantily clad while painting the inside of a bedroom window, and she literally shoved half her body through the open window to talk to me.  Do you understand wet paint, bedroom, get out of my house???

It didn't help that she had a large, vicious dog.  She was a hoarder.  She didn't clean.  She wasn't a beauty, and her horribly rotten teeth didn't help.  Sometimes I felt drunk from the wafting beer fumes coming over the property line.  I hate the smell of beer too.

For all of that, sometimes I fell for her friendliness.  Her nosiness was universal, so she told me the dirt on everyone on the street.  She told me all the dirt on herself for that matter, so I doubt she'd care about me talking about her now.  She had a brain tumor removed when she was younger.  Maybe they took out the part that dictates boundaries?  Whatever.  For the most part, we got along well enough.  I just kept adding fence.

One night, the paramedics came and I saw them wheel her out on a gurney.  She sat up and argued with the paramedics before they put her in the ambulance and took her away.  I didn't see her again.  I wondered what happened, but I didn't want to go over to the filthy house to find out.  I might've felt obligated to sit in that house and make nice, and I have bad history of being forced to sit in a different filthy house.  Back then, it was with a certifiably crazy old woman.  I couldn't make myself do the neighborly thing again.

The mailman was often lackadaisical about getting the mail to the right houses, and I got something that looked important for the next-door neighbor's husband.  I handed it over the fence and asked about his wife.  He said she'd died.  I expressed my sympathies, adding, "I didn't think it looked good when they took her away, but since she was arguing with the paramedics I thought maybe she was going to pull through."

He looked at me very oddly and said, "She was already dead when they got here.  I'd been out for the day, and found her dead on the floor when I got home."

To completely change the topic, let me continue my seasonal rant about wildlife.  My dog set off the skunk twice, but thankfully wasn't sprayed.  My pear trees are dripping with fruit, and the damned squirrels are picking them, nibbling a bit, then knocking more pears off the trees to nibble some more.  They do the same thing to the tomatoes.  Why can't they just take one and finish it??  I wish the groundhog would kill the squirrels, then commit suicide.  I made giant balls out of grapevines, and they seem to be working against the deer because they don't like to get their legs tangled up.  I think I'll make more deer balls.  The first of the garden's bounty is starting to come in and I've gotten the canning stuff out again.  Enjoy some summer pics...


Plums, cherry/plum/rhubarb, bread and butter pickles

Squirrel damage

Hoping that I'll get to eat at least some of the pears?

Turnips

Ripe tomatoes which are kind of a green pink brown.  No idea of the variety.
I kept seeds from a salad I enjoyed a couple of years ago.

Jane, this pic's for you :)

My 17-year-old puppy refused to pose by the deer balls to let me show you their size.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Sailor"

I've always thought that if I had to serve in the military, I'd choose the Coast Guard.  I could sail around on Lake Erie, pick up drunks who fall out of their boats, and party with Canadians.  I found out they could send you to some other part of the US coastline, and I thought, that's fine.  I could go as far as Chicago or Buffalo.  I abandoned all thoughts of the Coast Guard when I found out they could send you to the Gulf of Mexico or something.  No hablo Espanol, so I doubt I'd enjoy their parties.

There were times when I was a kid that I spent quite a bit of time fantasizing myself to Canada.  As the crow flies, I was only about 5 miles from the lake.  As a fish swims, it's considerably farther down the river, but I could get there eventually.  I sent the Canadians messages in bottles, but the Canadians never called.  I stole the bottles.  The summer people next door had a storage area of such useless junk, and I didn't think they'd miss the bottles.  Maybe the Canadians could sense my theft and their silence is a just karma?

As I pause to consider whether to talk about message bottles or theft, I remember the vividness of a memory that popped into my mind earlier this week.  Jackie, Sis2's friend, stepped on broken glass in the river.  Her foot was sliced very badly, and she did it on the wrong side of the river, downstream of civilization.  My dad picked her up and carried her across the algae-slippery shale riverbed through the rapids, and then all the way home with Jackie weeping blood the entire time.

After they left, I studied the broken glass in the water.  The clear glass blended with the clear water.  Dancing reflections of current camouflaged the shining reflections of the glass.  It was beautiful and dangerous.  I picked it up and threw it into the woods in a place where no one would step on it again.  My parents made a new rule that we had to wear shoes in the river after that, a rule I greatly resented, seldom followed, and probably explains why I lost so many shoes.

Why do I remember this so clearly?  And why did this moment pop into my mind so vividly this week?

I tracked my associated memories for a connection.  Older boys drank beer and threw their bottles across the river, laughing at the shattering sound, never considering a child's sliced foot.  Perhaps their thoughtless, selfish, stupid behavior was stirred in my memory as I see the same kind of behavior in politicians or some people I know?  Maybe I feel guilt at all those messages to Canadians sent in stolen glass bottles?  Maybe there's a danger I can't see through glittering reflections?

Six years ago, I wrote another post about sending negative thoughts down the river in paper boats.  You can see it here.  Creating that post seems as clear in my mind as Jackie's bleeding foot.  I think everything we've experienced is still in our heads somewhere, and sometimes I wonder why.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

"Ice Cream"

It was a beautiful summer day -- deep blue sky, tall forest looming overhead, screaming, laughing Girl Scouts running in circles, and the "Shooush!" of rock salt getting thrown off the back end of a pick up truck.  I was standing at the wrong place at the wrong time, and had to help lug the rock salt to the designated area.  Rock salt is heavy.  More things had to be moved.  I didn't understand what any of it was.  I just cooperated while the other girls continued to happily run around in circles.

Wooden buckets were packed with rock salt and ice.  Cream and sugar were poured into a metal cylinder.  Vanilla in one cylinder, chocolate in another.  A metal collar (wo)manhandled across the top of the contraption, and a handle banged onto one side.  "We're going to make ice cream!" the troop leader exclaimed.  Great!  I love ice cream!

Girl were called from play to sit on top of the buckets, and more girls were assigned to turn the handles.  Excellent.  Girl Scouts are great at teamwork.  I turned the handle for a few minutes.  "Is it ready now?"  No, it was not.  It became a relay effort of handle turning; I'm pretty sure we turned the handles for at least 4 hours.  Maybe 5?  Time is different when you're a child.  What I know is that it took forever.

It was the best ice cream of my life.  Specks of vanilla were peppered throughout.  It was so sweet, so creamy, so hard-won, but with a troop of girls, it was quickly gone.

We packed the buckets up again, churned the buckets again, ate strawberry ice cream with super red, super sweet berries plastered throughout.  I don't know what was in the other bucket.  Who would eat another flavor when you can have strawberries?  Forget what I said about the vanilla being the best ice cream I've ever had.  That strawberry ice cream was the best.

Of course, we did it again.  I was starting to suspect that the troop leader's plan was to work us all to exhaustion.  I think she succeeded.  I quit eating ice cream when the choice became pineapple.

Night fell in the forest.  Mosquitoes came out.  We built the essential bonfire and sang campfire songs.  It was a wonderfully perfect day.

By coincidence, I was thinking about ice cream when I went to the grocery store.  I wanted to buy Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia.  Full test -- don't insult ice cream with low fat, or try to pull one over on me with yogurt disguised as ice cream.  $5.79?!!!  You're kidding me, right?!!!  I am not going to pay that much for a tiny tub of ice cream.

But now, the word for the week is "ice cream", and I don't have any.  It just feels so wrong.  I may have to go to the store again.  Well, I know I have to go back.  This was my shopping list:  dog food, soap.  Can you guess which 2 items I neglected to get when I spent $120+ at the store today?  I think my revised shopping list is now dog food, soap, and ice cream.

BTW, I fussed around with this art more than you'd know by looking at it because in the end, I deleted most of what I'd done.  Sometimes that has to happen.  I decided I just felt like having a happy bookmark :)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

"Portrait"

I gave my first presidential vote to Jimmy Carter in 1980.  I also nullified my first vote by guilting my boyfriend to the polls where he voted for Reagan.  Bf didn't know much about either candidate, or any of the issues, he just thought Reagan seemed friendlier.  I learned a lot about how some people vote.

I know, I know, lots of people still lionize Reagan.  I fundamentally disagreed with him about environment concerns and the "Trickle Down Theory", but I can accept that people are allowed to disagree with me.  (Though, of course, the world will run better once everyone starts coming around to my point of view!)  We can reasonably criticize any of the US presidents.  They've all had flaws.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who lives in the DC political bubble, a guy who voted for Reagan twice.  He intelligently pointed out a slew of Carter's presidential flaws.  Okay, that's fair.  Carter made political mistakes.  He was also intelligent and far-sighted.  He put solar panels on the White House.  Think about how much farther we'd be along if he could've been better able to win people to addressing climate issues back then.

Years later, when Jimmy Carter was discovered to be quietly working on Habitat for Humanity homes, some started rethinking their opinions of him.  They see he's motivated to help people.  He's thoughtful and intelligent.

I think the political errors Carter made while in office came from a fundamental misunderstanding of the motivations of influential movers and shakers.  He is a decent human being who wants the best for the people in his country.  That doesn't motivate everybody.  I've had a terrible time trying to get my mind around this.  Not the part of Carter's motivations, the part about how there are others, many others, who don't give a damn about their country or about anybody but themselves.

I used to take drives with a pal of mine.  We drove through the parks and past pretty mansions.  We enjoyed each other's company and the beauty around us.  I didn't consider that someone else could take exactly the same drive and bemoan wasted land in the park, feel anger about maintenance taxes, and envy at the pretty houses.  A person like that can be judgmental towards my impractical aesthetics while I can be just as judgmental about their callous disregard for nature and craftsmanship... and never the twain shall meet.

Park levies pass easily in Greater Cleveland.  It isn't that everyone appreciates trees.  It's that some people appreciate trees, and the other people appreciate the fact that Cleveland's parks increase their property values.  Win/win... except some people still look at parks and fantasize about turning those trees into saleable lumber and an apartment complex.

I'm never going to agree with those people.  I'm never going to agree with someone like Paul Ryan who fantasized about getting rid of others' health care while he was still a student.  What's wrong with someone like that?

I wish our current president was more like Jimmy Carter.

Friday, June 30, 2017

"Love"

Oh geez, now I've got The Beatles "All You Need Is Love" stuck in my mind due to this week's IF prompt.  You can sing with me here.  This is all happy, though I'll admit my thoughts on love have been deeper this week as I took quite a bit of time deconstructing my past relationships to find where I own responsibility in the resulting messes -- though in a way, maybe there's some happiness to be found in that too?

I know, some of you found your one true love in kindergarten, and you're still happily married with loving, perfect children.  Quite a few of the rest of us haven't been as fortunate, and many of us think that the break-ups were all the fault of our exes -- even though it's never all one person's fault.  It doesn't matter if your ex was a serial killer megalomaniac.  You have to own some of it, even if your part is falling for that person in the first place.

This concept makes some people sputter in indignation.  He's a drunk!  She ruined us with credit card debt!  Whatever.  Those are their problems.  Hopefully, they're out of your life now.  What part did you play in it?

I asked a date this question, and he couldn't answer.  (Dating tip: don't spend a first date cataloging your ex's faults to a new prospect.)  This guy didn't get a second date.  Why go out with someone who is still hung up on his ex and doomed to repeat his mistakes?

Owning responsibility isn't the same punishing yourself.  For instance, one of the things I discovered in my own self-inquiry is that my most painful relationships exhibited early signs to get out, but I didn't move on when it could've been so much easier.  What's the point of blaming myself for that?  It's over and done.  Yet, I can use this realization to help in the future.  If the warning signs are there, listen.

Some of my traits that I'd like to think of as positive, like patience and optimism, burned me in relationships.  Should I be less patient and optimistic?  No.  Just find someone who doesn't abuse those traits with empty promises.  Be aware when the promises are empty.  Set boundaries, goals, and measure progress.  Of course it's all very easy when it's hormone/pheromone-free hypotheticals, but life's a journey.  If it were easy, we'd all be living happily ever after.

I told a friend that I'm happy by myself and don't know if I feel like getting involved again since men are all a pain in the ass anyway.  He agreed, adding women are all a pain in the ass too.  Clinked glasses and laughter.  Time out for local boy Eric Carmen here while smirking at their hairdos.

Wildlife Update: The damned groundhog sat on my deck, bold as brass while I sent it mental death rays, which were somewhat diminished by my observation it's actually pretty cute.  But no!  Death to groundhogs!  I told my dog to get it.  She looked at me like, "Are you crazy?  That thing is as big as I am!"  I said, "You can take it!" and dog obediently raced to the deck and chased it away.  I gave her lots of praise.  Later that day, I saw a skunk.  Happy puppy raced into the back yard "Woo hoo hoo!!!"  "NOOooooooo!!! Not the black and white kitty!!!!"  Thankfully, she wasn't sprayed, but clearly the wildlife is winning the war.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Sprout"

I wrote an apt post about "sprout", mostly about my bloody fantasies about a groundhog who is decimating my garden, but my heart just isn't in it.  Well, my heart is definitely into dead groundhog fantasies, but the groundhog will probably continue to live despite my frustrations.  I'm also waging a war against maple tree sprouts, but I guess that's as bad as talking about groundhogs.  I am an excellent farmer of maples, nightshade, coltsfoot, dandelions, etc., but maybe not so great at actually achieving vegetables.  Grrr.

I'll talk about going to a nursing home instead.  Right up there with hospitals and funeral homes, nursing homes prick unpleasant memories, and I avoid them -- which makes it all the more remarkable that I had a good time at one this weekend.

My 86-year-old friend has been struggling to live independently, and breaking her arm put an end to her negotiations on the subject.  Technically she's in rehab right now, but it seems unlikely she's going back to her condo once her arm is healed.  Yes, I know, this all sounds as bad as dead groundhog fantasies, but give me a moment to explain.

First, it was an absolutely glorious day, when snow-haters decide to move back to Ohio because it's so balmy and beautiful.  Poofy clouds in a bright blue sky, birds singing, and good will towards all.  I alleviated some of my nursing home dread by going with another friend who spilled a steady stream of political damnations to which I could nod and agree while laughing at her colorful observations.

We wound our way through endless halls of the pleasantly lit nursing home, smiling at the room full of parrots and tanks of fish.  This is a Jewish home (which is odd since my interred friend is ultra-Catholic), and I was interested in all of the Jewish art adorning the walls.  There were some old testament themes, some men's portraits showed yarmulkes, but mostly it was just art.  Some of it good, some not, but it's always good to see real art.  Somehow I missed the large sign that I wasn't allowed to bring in food or drink, and got chided for my probably-not-kosher cup of iced tea.

We finally found Helen, who asked about my recent writing, and who definitely wants mentioned in my pending book.  (I assured her that of course she's included!)  We chatted and laughed, commiserated with her injury and her inadequate lunch, then rolled her down a million hallways flanked with windows, gardens, and sculptures for a Judy Garland concert.  I learned I apparently know all of Judy Garland's songs and trivia.

The singer encouraged her audience to sing along.  Some of the old folks are alert and able.  One woman had on a colorful, vintage hat decorated with flowers, and I smiled at her chair dancing to the music.  One man looked about a breath away from coma -- but he faintly sang the songs too.  Part of me couldn't help but notice that the singer didn't hit every note exactly right, but as she made her wide, welcoming, inclusive gestures to the old people, she won me over.  There must be a special place in heaven for nursing home singers.  Well, if Jewish people have heaven?  (Quick google search was inconclusive.)

I left the nursing home happy.  That's a first.  I hope never have to live in such a facility, but may all the people who do need a home like this be serenaded with Judy Garland songs, and blessings to those who make old people's lives better.

And a P.S. regarding wildlife, a robin broke into my house and pooped purple mulberry juice on the linens I just washed yesterday.  I think I'm losing the battle with wildlife!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"Three"

The thing I like about Illustration Friday's words for the week is that they prompt me to think about things in ways I wouldn't bother thinking about otherwise.  Random thoughts like "two is a pair, and three is a set" pop into my mind.  I think about being three years old.  My first brother was born, and I started running away from home to explore my world.  But mostly, I am the third and last girl in a large family.

My mind feels like a wheel stuck in rut once I arrive at the importance of three -- but I don't know what I want to say about being the third girl of a set.  I think about running and playing games with my sisters.  I think about how hard I tried to keep up with the things their older bodies and brains could do.  I remember special moments and torments.  There is simply too many sister associations to consolidate all of it into one neatly typed blog post.

I'm the one on the right who needed a boost to keep up
We're alike.  We're different.  There were times when we were tightly packed into the backseat of the car, or a bed, or a bathtub, or in a writhing mass of arms and legs rastling on the floor.  Everything in my life was explored and used before I had a chance at it.  I learned from their successes and mistakes.  We played, we fought.  Sometimes we bled.  I often envied only children.  I feel blessed to have sisters.

I'm writing this on Sunday, and I've been thinking about being the third girl of the set since I saw the word for the week on Friday, feeling like everything I think and feel on the subject is too personal, or too ingrained, for me to recognize or share, yet also feeling my internal reluctance and difficulty is part of the point of the exercise.  Personal growth and creativity are results we gain from pushing past our comfort and resistance.

My oldest sister made her annual trek to Ohio this weekend.  I was very glad to see her.  Should I talk about sitting around the picnic table talking about menopause?  See, it gets pretty invasive, but an older sister is a window to understanding my body, my thoughts, my feelings, and my future in ways only kids don't get.

Sis1 had a health scare this year.  Thankfully, everything seems fine now, but I've been thinking of her a lot as a result... and then my mind goes into a galaxy of swirling thoughts and memories which seem so personal and important and trivial while chastising myself about taking too much for granted.  We can't count on people always being there when we think of them as absolutes in our existence.  Value them while they're here.

I feel a bit out of sync with the world to write about sisters on Father's Day, but the same point hold true with dads too.  If your dad is alive, I hope you have a spectacular relationship together and that you let him know you love him.  If it's too late for that, I hope you have great memories.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads!

Friday, June 9, 2017

"Skate"

Some people skate by in life, which is an odd expression because it seems to me that gravity is kinder to children than adults.  I distinctly remember sitting bruised on the ice the last time I skated.  Despite this fact, I'm pretty sure I have 3 pairs of ice skates around the house.  It's like the hiking boots, 1 expensive pair, 1 garage sale pair, and then the nostalgia of Dad's hockey skates which I can loan to a male skating partner if necessary.

Dad could spin on the tip of a hockey skate, which I'm pretty sure is a skill most men don't share.  Since we lived in a valley, and all water runs downhill, we had a lot of frozen water in winter.  Ponds were usually better for skating, but we skated the river too when the winters became extreme enough to freeze the running water.  That didn't happen every year, and some years we thought it was frozen enough, and it wasn't.

One year, I tested the ice and it failed.  I stomped home while fighting hypothermia, and Dad busted a gut laughing at my cold, wet, miserable self.  When he was done laughing, he built a fire and threw me a blanket.  I was toasty warm when Sis2 came in bedraggled, wet, and miserable.  I was warm enough by then to join Dad's laughter.  We might've even been consoled with hot cocoa, which was a real treat in our painfully sugar-free home.

I'm trying to cheer myself with warm memories because the nearer memories are rather painful.  There was another funeral this week, of someone too young to go.

Danny Flannery died just short of his 29th birthday.  He was one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet, which I suppose proves the good die young.  He was smart, funny, gentle, sensitive, and kind.  He was also a giant.  I don't really know how tall he was, but big enough to make me feel downright petite when I gave him a hug.

He worked in my office which was filled with mostly ladies older than myself who had known him since he was a kid in school.  The Dan memories that really touch my heart are quiet, sharing moments that happened between just the 2 of us, but I smile at drinking and laughing with him too.  But I'm sad.  Really sad.  Can you tell?  He had a long, painful last few years, and I'm sad about that too.  I wish he'd had a long life with a loving wife and children and grandchildren.

I felt like a coward, but I didn't go to the funeral.  Besides, I knew the place would be packed.  Nice guys have a lot of friends and loved ones, and they didn't disappoint.  I hear the parking was impossible.  Good for Danny.  I'm glad he was loved by so many people.  Maybe a packed funeral is the best sign of a life well lived?

I swear he's been talking to me in my dreams, but I don't know what he's saying.  I can hear his voice, but not the words.  It's like he's behind the tattered curtain in the Department of Mysteries -- which once again shows that Harry Potter addresses all the important stuff.

I feel like I should write something uplifting, but all I can think is that I hope Dad takes Danny skating in the afterlife.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

"Mind 2"

Okay, it isn't May anymore, but Illustrationfriday.com didn't give me a word for the week either, so I'll play by my own rules this week.  Besides, the May apples in my yard aren't ripe, which begs the question why they're called "May" apples in the first place.

For those of you who don't know May apples, they grow in the woods and the deer love them.  If you are able to show up at the exact moment when they're ripe, and before the deer get them, May apples actually taste pretty good.  They're kind of non-remarkable, or even a bit bitter if you try eating them before the magic moment of ripeness.

Since the last word for the week IF provided was "Mind", I'll share piece of mine about tardiness.  If you're one of those people who are late all the time, I'm talking to you.  I don't want to confuse the perpetually tardy with someone who got stuck in traffic or took an important phone call.  Everybody experiences something which might make them a bit late once in a while.  Responsible people call and say they're running late.  Or, if they're the ones in traffic, they might not call because they're being responsible drivers and don't want to add to traffic incidents.  It's you other people, the ones who don't care if I'm stranded at a restaurant alone for half an hour or more because you had to fuss your hair a bit longer, or whateverthehellyou'redoing when you're supposed to be HERE, you people make my blood erupt through the top of my head.

When you show up, I might ask if you're okay, pre-supposing you might've encountered a legitimate delay.  I might even say "It's okay" to your insincere apology, but let it be known, it isn't okay.  I'm just trying to salvage whatever's left of the get together or meeting that you have already messed up.

I had a memorable fight with a long-time friend (A) after she was late for an appointment I set up for her with another friend (B).  Friend A was out of work (perpetual tardiness being a factor in her firing), and she was very stressed.  B is a counselor, and I asked him to see A free of charge as a favor to me.  A showed up at my house half an hour after the appointment time, then drove like a lunatic to B's office, making us only 45 minutes late.  I don't often yell, but I yelled that day.  I pointed out an unemployed person had no reasonable grounds to be late for a 10:00 appointment.

A thought I was unreasonable and mean.  After all, the reason for the appointment was her stress.  Pity party for A.  I pointed out she had given both B and me a great deal of stress.  No, it's more important to remember that A was stressed.  Pity, pity party for A.

It took me a long time to come to the realization that prompt people are considerate and overall better friends, lovers, and business associates than the perpetually tardy.  They care about sharing time together, take turns at listening, and care about other's feelings.  I love these people.

Life is short.  I'm not going to waste my life waiting for someone who doesn't care about my time or feelings.  Let's celebrate the punctual!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

"Mind"

Great grandpa said, "If you want to keep your mind, you have to use your mind."  He lived by that maxim too.  His mind was great in his late 90s because he read the dictionary.  He studied the Bible so he could discuss it with people who knocked on his door.  He liked talking with children who were learning everything for the first time.

This week I heard that 1 in 3 people will get Alzheimer's by the time they're in their 60s.  I was stunned, since I'm unaware if anyone I ever knew had it, and I've known a lot of old people.  (This can explain a lot about American elections though since most voters are 60+.)

Sometimes I think that people stagnate at about the mental age of 20.  That's about the age they've finished learning how to learn.  Everything they do after that age is a variation of a theme using the mental skills they've acquired by that time.  Even if they learn new things, they're just using the same synapses in their brains to add to their store of knowledge.

When I went to college, I was confronted with the need to actually study.  This was a very unpleasant awakening.  I had managed to skip through school up till that point with very little actual effort, and I liked it that way.  Watching my college classmates studying, I felt both reluctance and curiosity.  Most of them looked miserable, and who wants to join in misery?  At the same time, I wondered how they did it, and I asked them about their study techniques.

Most of them did some variation of endlessly repeating things and reading text books until the knowledge got wedged in their brains.  I'm too dyslexic, and honestly don't have the attention span to dedicate to rote learning.  One friend told me she made up little songs with the lyrics being test facts.  That worked much better for me.  Another told me to take really good notes.  I could do that while attentively listening in class.

Most of the things I studied after college were learned in the same ways, and I got to a different point of mental laziness again.  Again, I found myself liking it that way.  I think it's human nature to do the least amount of work necessary.  It's why we get fat.

At one of my jobs, I found my old methods didn't work as well as necessary for the tasks at hand.  I read and took copious notes.  I listened hard.  I experimented.  I tried to remember what I'd learned in 3rd grade math classes.  I could feel synapses painfully growing in my brain -- and I found that after the initial doubts and misery, I loved it.

The most important thing I learned is that I needed to keep learning.  It didn't really matter what I learned.  I just needed to keep stretching my brain muscles to keep them limber.  I'm not going to get Alzheimer's.  I hope you don't either.  Keep your brain and enjoy learning as a life-long process

Happy Memorial Day for those who live where it is celebrated.  Remember those who died for your freedom to enjoy picnics!

Friday, May 19, 2017

"Team"

Every time Bro4 comes over, he says, "You should get rid of the weeds in your driveway.  They'll crack the cement."  My typical response is some variation of "I'll get to it".  Lately, I've told him about my friend's eco-friendly method of killing weeds with bleach, which prompts Bro to say, "Just use Round Up".  This conversation is as predictable as the sun rising in the morning and setting every evening.  Even if he doesn't say it out loud, I know he's thinking about telling me to get rid of the weeds until I cave to the inevitable and get rid of them. 

If you're interested in the bleach method, saturate the leaves instead of the base of the plant.  Use a sprayer with only plastic parts (no metal).  Give it a day or two and the plants will die.  The bleach dissipates, so it's better for the environment, but it's better if you don't let your pets walk on it the first day.  I'd also recommend that you do it before the plants get too big because I still ended up scraping the dying plants with my dedicated driveway shovel, which is actually a coal shovel, but who has coal these days?  I even went the extra step and swept the drive (with the dedicated driveway broom) to get rid of the bzillions of maple helicopters.

My driveway looks lovely.  Well, it did look lovely before the winds and rain came and brought down several more bzillions of maple helicopters down.  But in that golden moment when my driveway looked suburban perfect, I noticed an ant colony swarming on my perfect cement.


Ants are pretty amazing.  They display excellent teamwork.  I resisted the urge to stomp on them and let them move house in peace.  I hope they remember my peaceful nature next time one of them wants to bite me when I'm weeding the garden.  Maybe they're trying to get back at me for burning their ancestors with a magnifying glass when I was a child?  Even then, I wasn't thrilled with murder for entertainment.  I took to burning paper and leaves instead.

I watched the swarming ants for a little bit because I found it interesting that they were passing up eggs and handing them off to each other.  The eggs (or larva?) were bigger than the ants carrying them.  Then one of the ants bit me, and I decided there were better things to do than watch ants.

I don't know if it's true though?  Perhaps watching ants is the absolute best use of my time?

Thoughts, creativity, inspiration, realizations happen in unexpected moments of quiet time, and we don't get those moments if we never slow down enough to witness our own lives because we're too busy watching tv, playing video games, or doing stuff we're "supposed to" do.  Should all of our discoveries be in childhood when we have endless time to watch ants?