The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

Prompt #7 – One great party

My surprise 40th birthday party. And I thought was old then!!

My second husband, Ian, and I had lived in Lexington for almost a year.  I was settling into a house bigger than I’d ever lived in before.  The spaciousness, no longer intimidating was filled up with “us.”  One daughter at UK and her best friend in the guest room for the semester.  My younger daughter in high school.  My stepson in high school.  And I was also in school at UK finishing my BA.  Lots of studying at our house.

Ian said we were having birthday dinner at a lovely spot,  Merrick Place.  My sister came for the weekend.  While we dressed up for a celebratory meal, the girls and Charlie chatted and giggled a bit more than usual.  “Let’s go,” Ian calls out. And to my surprise – a limo is parked at the front door!  Whoa!  I walk on air to take my seat.  Lots more excited giggling.  The crowd of us creates quite a stir as we exit in the thrill of the limo ride and present ourselves for the reserved table.  We happily laughed, talked and ate.  Ian had a remarkable way of entertaining and 3 teenage girls or Charlie never let the chatter lag.  And my sister has a way in injecting just the right comment to make us all laugh.  We ate dinner and did the whole candle thing for dessert.  People at other tables clapped.

Leaving the restaurant, many diners wished me a happy birthday.  One woman pulled me aside.  “It’s my birthday too, only I am older than 40.  Do you realize that September 30 is nine months to the day from New Year’s Eve?”

Well, fodder for thought!  “Then, I believe we were conceived in celebration and joy.”

Riding home the giggling didn’t stop in spite of the full bellies.  The driver drove down a street full of cars and was barely able to find a parking space. I walked up the sidewalk and into the house to find 20 or so familiar faces to greet me!  Surprise.   Peeps from our previous residence, Ashland, that I had been missing terrible traveled to help me celebrate.

The kitchen table was laden with food.  Beer in coolers.  Flowers smiled up the place!  My house transformed in a matter of hours into a party spot.

I quickly changed from dress up clothes to comfy so the weird Happy Birthday blinking necklace thing matched better.  And the celebration continued.

Long time friends in our new location.

Thank you all again!

 

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Prompt #3 – Paint a Word Picture

Today, I am to use all my senses to describe. Paint a word picture. I think I can stick to the instruction today!
Oh, the many things I could write about. Paris. The earth beneath my feet on the Camino. Closer to home, my flowers or my bee stings.

August is a ripe and sensory month. Humidity that drips from the air and is sucked up by the heat. Heat and harvest.

Then there are the trash men who deal with all of the senses all day. God bless those brave strong people who brave the smells and weights and shapes of what we throw away. The grinding truck rolls away and my cans are emptied, ready to refill.

I settle on the green and red fruits hanging from the tall vines, caged for strength, the power of their growth so focused the plant quickly outgrows its core capabilities. Tomatoes are over achievers! Roots suck nutrition and water from the composted soil, fed with worms and minerals with one mission – grow. And grow. And grow. Product fruit, their one specific mission. Until – the cold sets in and the seeds of the unused fruit fall on cold, hard ground, waiting out winter and the return of sun and heat.

The tomato is an ambitious plant. Started from a tiny seed, raising itself to a 6’ vine giant. Green, rich is the unmistakable smell of tomato goodness, even from a touch of the seedling, then the little white flower turns into a globe of red lusciousness, their smell permeates.

A green stem reaches outside the rim of a silver washtub where smooth, red, ripe goodness waits . Abundance, sustenance, summer time, like the magic of seed to fruit, like a pizza parlor, like the kitchens of gardeners in August. Fruit flies catch a whiff, follow the trail and indulge. I will blanche, core and freeze to add summer warmth to winter soups, stews and chili.

I suggest you carry the salt shaker to the garden and capture some of the sun’s warmth as you bite through the skin of this luscious goodness. Let the seeds run down your chin. Let that ummm escape from your throat, past lips reaching for another bite.

Salute to the Goddess of the tomato!

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The Camino

I walked 5 days of the Santiago de Compostela, commonly known as the Camino.  It’s been a dream of mine for 10 ? –  12 years.   Since maybe my 10th Artist’s Way class when dreams are floating in the air to be recognized, when I want to are being identified.  I was having dinner with a neighbor from my teenage years who just returned from her second Camino walk,  this time with her granddaughter.

I was captivated.  I read books.  I watched, The Way. I included it in my wish list every subsequent time I hosted the Artist’s Way.

The Camino door opened a crack when I signed up to go with my granddaughter and daughter on the school trip to France.  I was so close to the Camino.  Already across the Atlantic.  The countries right next door.  I pushed that door open.  I figured it out.  I arranged plane transportation.   I got my cousins to sign on to walk with me.  I made it happen.

I walked my Camino. Five days. 50 miles.  Planes, trains, buses, taxis and feet! And a great deal of determination.

From the plane flying from Nice to Madrid, above the clouds the terrain looked like I could be anywhere.  Irregular forests, angular fields.  Roads.  Rivers.  Hills and prairies.  No language barriers.  Few differences.  From above all looks equal, similar and peaceful and I stare out the little window wonder why we humans can’t figure out how to get along with each other.  And I was so stressed about going to a foreign country alone (meeting my cousins later that day at a prearranged hotel for the night).  And I found them.  And I overcame all the waterfall of fears the scenery did not reflect!

I met my companions and we had dinner in old Madrid surrounded by a huge Gay Pride celebration.  Rainbow flags and clothing and fountains.  A solid initiation.

The next morning we took a taxi and a 5 hour bus and another taxi to Portomarin where we joined the peregrinos/pilgrims the next morning.

First Camino lesson I learned was that backpacking is way more advanced than walking.  I am a walker, an occasional hiker NOT a backpacker.

I learned that an experienced backpacker can carry extra items for the unprepared.  Brenda and Kevin helped carry my load.  I had worked and worked to get small in my baggage ans still, my backpack not one for a hiker was not doable.

We began our walk across a bridge and up a hill.  And the hills never stopped!  And neither did the scenery.  We walked an incredible path, often feeling I had been transported back centuries to a much simpler time when one was much closer to the earth.

Be in the present moment. Love the present moment. Carry your burdens courageously. Keep walking. Discard what you can. Be in the moment. Listen.

I learned to keep searching for what you want and if the hills get too tough – rest.  Include rest in the journey.
Several times the music called me in. The owls. the journey song. The bagpipes.
Bless the trees for providing shade,
the farmers for providing food,
the cooks for sumptuously preparing it,
the housekeepers for clean rooms,
the baristas for cafe con leche,
the centuries of peregrinos for paving the way.

For those who walked before me and those to follow, dedicated to the Spirit of the human condition.

I heard no news, no political discord, no my side or your side.  Only the focus of the walk.  Where are we right now?  Santiago the goal.

Buen Camino to those resting, to those pacing ahead, to those in service to peregrinos.  The kinship of the shared journey, breaking barriers of language, age, gender, race.  it’s all bout the journey.

We shared the wide path with those who were driven and fast paced.  We shared the wide path with those who were meandering; with those  who were limping and those peddling, cruising or pumping.

Each vista was new, waiting to be unfurled upon searching eyes.  Each hill presented and conquered.  Each downhill achieved.  The straight stretches – a gift.  Remembering to look out and up, not just down.  Finding a comfortable pace.  Passing and being passed.  One foot in front of the other.  Buen Camino to each pilgrim on their own walk.

Groups of every size and individuals.  Irish.  South African.  German.  French.  Asian.  Spanish.  Oh, the strong legs.  Each focused on the goal, Santiago.

Sticks and hats.  Back pack packs and water bottles. Clicking, pacing across path worn footsteps from centuries of seekers.

I witnessed a culture that is strongly attached to food.  Every homestead in the villages and hamlets and many in the cities grew gardens.  Not just flowers but food gardens.  Beautiful gardens.  All through the villages and hamlets were chickens, lots of chickens, cows – the smell so natural there was no offense.  There were goats and sheep.  Cats and dogs.  Seldom did we share a path with motorized vehicles.

Evidenced by the structures, people lived close to the land and used what nature provided.  Stone roofs.  Tree branches for fence posts.  What I loved were bed springs for trellising!  Laundry was dried outside in the sun in the country and in the cities.

No matter how rustic or empty of human habitation our basic needs were absolutely provided for.  Crystal clear spring water ran from  fountains all along the way.  Cold and refreshing and clearly delicious. Rooms were sparse and clean.  Cafes offered plentiful and fabulously fresh and full of life food and cafe con leche.  Ham and cheese.  Eggs and veggies.  Bread.

We saw stone houses with the barns attached.  Bridges made of huge rocks.  Roman bridges.  Crosses and religious symbolism  stood to mark “the way” like sentries, guides or guardians.  The little churches offering shade, beautiful art work and holy water in dabbed on my heart and head – yes, and on my knees!

Many of the columnar directional markers with the shell and arrow were adorned with rocks, pieces of memorabilia, worn out shoes, notes and encouraging graffiti.  One section bore the words, line by line, of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Through the rain, the sun, the exhaustion there was no place to quit.  No choice but to continue on.  Forward towards the goal.  And that goal was sometimes the next cafe!  Quit, however, not an option.

Yes, there were moments of WTF Camino? and not Buen Camino.  Is my lesson here that around each corner life brings another big hill, another difficult section to struggle across?  Pounding heart?  Tired legs?  Why did I want to do this?  Who am I fooling?  I’m definitely too old to do this.  I can’t.  Rest and look around and reassess.  Water from the fountain down my neck.

One foot ahead of the other.  Being the present moment.    I am in the present moment.  All I have is the present moment.

Yes, I can.

Yes, I can.

Yes, I can.

And while I walked “only” 5 days/50 miles, I can not compare my journey with those walking 100 miles in 8 days, or walking 500 miles for the third time.  Or finishing the walk after doing sections every summer for the last 10 years.  My Camino is mine.  Just like theirs is theirs!

We taxied to the city limits of Santiago from Arua because we wanted to make the noon mass celebrated each day for all walkers.  I am not Catholic and it was awesome to share space and sing with a thousand other people from all over the world in an ancient structure with it’s ancient ritual.  Sacred in a community way, unlike the sacredness of the small, quiet places of worship and community we had passed through

Even the camaraderie of the Camino didn’t last far into Santiago, past the noon mass.  Few Buen Camino’s.

As we mingle with tourists and locals the focus is blurred, the goals now to varied except to share a common space, entranced by a common marvel of ancient engineering, worship and geography.  We are here and the so are the tour groups.  Some  dazed looking walkers still hefting backpacks, sticks and blisters.  Many tired pilgrims refreshed and bathed, now shopping and eating and celebrating. Resting in the city.    The bikers mingle with police who carry automatic weapons  The beggars and the souvenir sellers. The tourist and those who live by the tourist’s visit.  Movement but peaceful still, a hushed chatter not a still quiet, as sacred as in the forest but hushed sounds of sacred space interspersed with street musicians, laughter and traffic.  Delivery trucks.  Commuters.  Street cafe’s and relaxed eating, rest and proceed to the next stop.

Home? or onward to Finesterre?

I am home.  And grateful.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago

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Why I March

I will march with women as long as my feet will carry me. In my 67 years I have worked my way through many a gender equality issue.
I married young because I believed it “the thing to do”.

After 10 years, I became a single mother and discovered that in spite of having complete control of the finances, I was without any credit rating. After my second divorce, and while, indisputably, not the primary bread winner in either marriage, yet being again in charge of the finances, I was AGAIN without any individual credit rating.  Yes, even with the 7 years of living single between marriages. Credit ratings were attached only to the male and because my single days were previous to the 2nd  marriage they disappeared.

I worked as a banquet waitress (my second job) carrying heavy trays wearing high heels because it was the dress! Why haven’t males been expected to wear high heels to be sexy?

I lost a job once because my commissions paid me more than the boss made for a quarter of that year.

I was any number of times sexually harassed in my job. I was in sales and I certainly encountered sex for business offers. One, in particular, from a  man who was a friend of my father’s, albeit, my father was deceased.

I’ve bought make up, had my nails polished -many women color their hair (I don’t. My hair is still red!) -to step correctly, ie young and perfect, into the cultural acceptance of beauty. Has a man?

So, we, across the board, earn less and we spend on looking culturally acceptable.. (I LOVE YOU, PAULA ANN, my dear friend who does nails and throws in the loving counseling because that is the kind generous soul she is). And, I really do like to have my toenails polished in the summer!

And whose is benefiting from the sale of all that make up and cream and beauty enhancer that we are force fed by our culture? A marketing plan that tells us to be who we are and shine through our God given faces?

Why isn’t there a male word with the same connotation as  misogyny?
mi·sog·y·ny — (dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
“she felt she was struggling against thinly disguised misogyny”)

Why is hysterical and hysterectomy from the same root word?

Why is is history and not her-story? Because I think they would write differently.

How many years has it been since women were chattel? Not so many.

Why isn’t there male genital mutilation?

Why is there still a sex trade using young girls as bartering tools?

Why were the girl children killed in China?

Why was there foot binding?

Need I go on?

Yes, I sill go on and I will march for the freedom/equality path I have and will continue to pave for my daughters and my granddaughters and your daughters and your granddaughters.

Take nothing for granted. The freedoms we have now, someone has protested to provide.

Why is this permitted?

Did you know that in 2015, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 20 percent? While the number has gone up one percentage point from 2014, the change isn’t statistically significant — because the increase is so small, mere tenths of a percent, it doesn’t amount to perceptible change. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the earnings ratio hasn’t had significant annual change since 2007. The gap has narrowed since the 1970s, due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. Still, the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own. At the rate of change between 1960 and 2015, women are expected to reach pay equity with men in 2059. But even that slow progress has stalled in recent years. If change continues at the slower rate seen since 2001, women will not reach pay equity with men until 2152.

http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/

 

 

Thank you Donald Trump for bringing our issues to the open and letting us examine our values in front of the world, our neighbors, ourselves.  I am certainly more and more convinced of my beliefs – the truths I hold to be self-evident.

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The Gift of the Sun Goddess

Sun Goddess

The Sun Goddess grew as a result of human generosity, compassion and my imagination.

The fabric pieces were gifted to me by a complete stranger at the Victory of Light show in Cincinnati in November. A gentleman came into the booth and began to look up close and personal at the fabric collage pieces I had for sale. This guy really looked. Rare for a man to examine the stitching and the embellishments and feel the fabric. Rare for a man to be so involved and interested in the structure and the composition. We chatted for a minute. He left the booth. He then returned and chatted again about where I get my materials and ideas. Seems he is a costume designer! And someone had only recently gifted him with a bag of fabric for which he was grateful and which he knew he was not going to utilize and the bag was still in his car and he had too many unfinished projects in the queue. He asked, “Would you like this bag of fabric?” And I said, “Yes!”

The orange earring is a gift from my brother-in-law, Dave, who works for an apartment owner doing repairs, restoration and spiffing up when a tenant vacates. This particular tenant apparently left very abruptly because she left behind piles of personal belongings. Among the leavings were a hundred or so pairs of big dangly earrings and a bunch of necklaces. He gathered them into a box and brought them to me. They smelled badly of cigarettes and unhappiness. I looked through them wondering, “I don’t know about this stuff.” I laid all the pieces out on the picnic table in the back yard to cleanse in the sunlight for 4-5 days. And the things began to take on as aspect of possibility. Although some of it I tossed, some I kept and the orange oval earring – presto, change – a halo!

The sheet music was part of my Aunt Janet’s collection. She and her mother were accomplished pianists. I have a stack of sheet music with her notes and comments on it. The story is that her mother would start dinner and have it nearly ready when her father came home from the office. He would have a cocktail while she played a piano piece for him and then dinner was ready and they ate!

The wings are really old hinges. They came as a part of a much larger gift from a woman who had more stuff than nearly anybody! She and her husband travelled and collected and shared a lovely life together. My partner became her Mr. Fix-it after her husband passed. He did repairs from changing light bulbs to tiling the bathroom floor and wiring lamps. We would take dinner and talk and share stories. A dear friend. She had the greatest greenhouse full of every color geranium. One Saturday we helped her clean out the tool room and ended up bringing home all sorts of hardware. Nails and screws of many sizes. Picture hangers, wire, and, yep, hinges!

The sun’s face is a hematite. A hematite is a beautiful, smooth, shiny stone used for grounding, stabilization and protection. It’s heavy and solid. While I am not completely certain, most of the arrows point to this being a gift from Wendy Sue, whom I lovingly call my personal shopper. I am sure this piece was a necklace. Wendy Sue can zero in on a bargain from across town. Like a heat seeking missile searching its target. She finds beads, jewelry, lace and fabric. Clothing, shoes. The treasure list is long. Most currently she presents me with a big box of trim samples like for pillows or curtains and tiebacks.
Some might call it excessive or even silly, but Wendy and I can dally through a box of “stuff” admire its quality and workmanship and…and… for a long time. Then she gifts whatever it is to me and I have to find something to do with it! Well, the trim piece becomes: tada, a Sun Goddess body! Who knew!

My Sun Goddess is carrying a pail from which she will pour her blessings.

My blessings within this piece are the result of saying thank you to the many gifts I receive from many, many people. And for the gift of this time in my life wherein I can explore and grow more fully my creative uniqueness. And – believe me, I am continually surprised with the things I end up with.

Receiving the creative piece is just like receiving the material gifts. It’s saying “YES.” It’s being open to the Universal flow. And the flow comes in many packages be it fabric, whats-its or ideas! And the flow? Call it God, call it Creator. Call it the Universe or Source. However you relate to it – Call on it. It is yours for the asking and receiving. It is you, a more fully examined you. I hope you will claim yours.

I did. I am. And it’s fun and it just makes me happy.

And I’ve been humming this song the whole time I’ve been working on this blog.  So, enjoy…

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