385. finer details

I’m getting obsessed with my wall mural, folks. I may need a paint night intervention with a fire hose to separate me from my paint brushes.  The big forms are taking shape with large dollops of desert colors. And there is sort of a pattern coming into view, a 360 degree panorama of the Catalina Mountains plus some poetic licensed violations of nature. My sun actually sets on the west wall just like at my  daughter’s back deck in north Tucson, but in my office it’s behind the seat where most of my clients choose to sit. Having defined the parallel universe thusly, I dare not introduce another sun… unless I want to go full Dali. I am tempted to paint numbers on my white sun as if it were a clock face, no hands though. Why paint yourself into a time corner when you live in a circular world? Time is not flat or square, right? Columbus proved that, I think. I think a bird’s wings would be sufficient to suggest the clock hands and “time flies” theme on my bone white sun’s face. It’s not photography or realism that I’m going for. It is a dreamscape instead with a condor of consciousness swooping across.

On the east wall is open desert with some stone towers and burnt orange foothills to frame the emptiness, borrowed from a DeGrazia painting I saw. I placed a small rising moon opposite my enormous setting sun. Not sure where it’s going to end, but the process of working on such a  huge scale is very freeing, exhilarating even. However, I have to calm my exploding creative flatulence as clients arrive, expecting my full focus. So far, one took a picture to show her husband, and one gave me constructive artistic criticism. “You might want to go impressionistic and just suggest mountains, you know? soften the lines.” No, I’m going for surrealism, mate, but thanks anyway. None of this stuff actually exists except on my walls. In a way it’s like walking into my 12′ by 12’mind matrix. Terrifying. Strange. Beautiful.

Most folks hardly even notice the grandiose overhaul, which is pretty amazing to me. In my old office bathroom I smeared dark maroon paint on three walls of the claustrophobia inducing room. My billing lady said it looked like someone had been hacked to death in there. Not a word from anyone else for six years. Maybe they thought I was a mafia “cleaner” and they were too scared to raise my suspicions. Perhaps I should have littered a plastic finger or two in the corners, you know? Maybe a bloodied watch or a shoe for the full noir effect. Wait, it’s supposed to be warm and fuzzy and safe in therapy bathrooms, no masks, clowns or tool company pinups. Drat! boundaries kill all the funny folks who will kill you without boundaries.

So now come the long hours of detailing the big shapes, adding dimension, shadows, textures, suggestions, contrasts, etc. In some ways, I suppose, it’s like language in that I have the nouns, verbs and tone of voice, mood, vocabulary, theme, and some sense of symbolic narration on my walls. Does that make sense to you? The main nuts and bolts are in place, but now I’m tweaking the subtleties, adding nuances and hints. Adding adjectives and adverbs, prepositional phrases, clauses, only with paint instead of consonants and vowels. I think you are following me, right? Nod here. Thanks. So I add a stoic cactus, or a hundred cacti, an abandoned adobe house, some sage and agave, and parched washes crying out for a single drop of rain.

Or take a song, you musical peepers. You lay down a rhythm, develop a few choruses, a bridge, then write some snappy lyrics that capture the feel you were after… and eventually you play it over and over, adding the bass, the drums, a keyboard, maybe guitar, a sax or harmonica solo along the way. You jack up the vocals, perhaps add harmony, steadily moving toward a sound you know you’ll recognize though you’ve never heard it before. A vague, shadowy template floats in your head like a goddess until one day you meet her in the flesh. How does that work?

What is that? Creative spirit echoing back from the hidden caverns of the cosmos. Inexplicable to scientists who insist on repeatable proof in line with the holy grail of the scientific method. What sad boys and girls they are. How do scientists explain falling in love with one special soulmate? It’s not reproducible; instead, falling in love is anecdotal and eccentric as all heck. Probably irrational at many points, but ultimately it keeps the species viable enough to produce other little scientists who don’t believe in what they cannot prove repeatedly. Mystery, my friends, mystery defies scientific investigation. The revelation of creation is still a mystery.

Details, all details, follow the big picture, my blogadillos. They hang on the larger slabs of reality. You get your dirty car detailed; you seek details to understand and sometimes to believe or remember; you ask for details when you smell a rat. Details trap the rat on little slivers of truth.  Smaller strokes made by tiny brushes move like little creatures underfoot. In this case they are under my grip. Baddabing:  a cinnamon line appears to define a random ridge from a purple mountain against a sulfur yellow sky. Intuition rules this palette of endless color selections. The paints talk to me, persuading me not to wash them away but rather shift the hues I had in mind. I comply because there is no right answer, and wrong answers scream immediately. “You can’t have pink cactuses… or can you?”  I need to explore that further.And when I figure out how to transfer my photos of the mural project onto my computer and then upload those to the blog, I’ll share the inner workings of my brain with you, my fine, fine seekers of truth.  Aloha for now.

 

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371. Change the Filter

I have a reminder note above my computer screen; it tells me when to change the air filter in my office building. Every three months is the target. I suppose I could switch it out more often if I were a worrier, but I’m not. The first year or two I didn’t know about the filter, which is located in a large vent in the attic above my desk. Getting to it requires a ladder and the removal of a ceiling tile and a 6 inch layer of fiberglass insulation. It’s not a hard task, but it is dirty and itchy.

Once you breech the attic, you have to pull yourself up next to the vent and pull out the old filter. It’s covered in gray dust like dryer lint. You slide the fresh new filter into the slot and voila!  Clean air for a while… unlike the first couple of years when I did not know about the filter. I learned on a steamy hot summer day that the filter must be changed or else it turns to a solid concrete barrier that shuts down air flow. When the compressor feels the pressure building up, it automatically shuts down. That’s when I called the HVAC guys.

Friendly Mike’s HVAC tech came out and immediately assessed the situation. My heat pump on the roof was fine, but he needed to use the $200/hour  boom truck to get there. The compressor was just locked up due to a pressure switch glitch. Before you knew it, Larry was climbing into my attic and swapping out filters. He showed me the year old filter that should have been changed out four times by then. It resembled a thin  concrete sheet cake ready for icing and candles. If I took it to the bakery for decorating, the attendant would ask, “And what would like to say on the cake, sir?”dirty air filter photo: dirty cabin filter filter2.jpg

“Eejit… that’s all.”

I think Larry got some satisfaction out of my disgusted reaction. “Wow, Larry, that’s a lot of dust, man.”

“Yup, four hundred dollars worth… yuk, yuk.”

I vowed then and there to never let this happen again in my living lifetime.

Larry offered to come back every three months to do this again. And why not? It was nearly free money for him. Foolishly I agreed to the deal. I say foolishly because the next time he came he put in a filter that he charged $12.00 for, plus his service call fee. I watched him do his routine and was amazed at how simple it was. ‘I can do that’, I thought, without Larry’s service call and overpriced filters. I stocked up on filters of the same type, getting 4 of them for $12.00. Then I couldn’t wait for the system to get dirty.

Mummy Mummies preserved bodiesNinety days later I opened the dark dusty attic tomb to look for the mummified air filter. In my one hand was a flashlight, an air filter in the other. I plucked the old dirty filter out of its slide and inserted the fresh clean one. Simple and satisfying. Yeah! Such a mundane action gave me a boost of manly competence. I felt like doing an Old Spice deodorant commercial then and there. “I am the Dust King! Bow to me, Ye Evil Dust Motes.” I replaced the insulation and ceiling tile without too much mess. Put away the flashlight and ladder. Went back to my routines… thinking about that filter. I had saved the lungs of countless hundreds. Though they would never know, dust free air was thanks enough.

Okay, I associate this and that and the other thing as you already know if you’ve read any of my previous posts. I can’t help it anymore than your kidneys can stop purifying your waste water or your liver purifying your blood. It’s in me, man.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a mental filter you could change periodically, one that would catch all the crap of life and keep it from recycling through your brain? How often do you make a mistake and feel stupid for a really long time afterwards as you perseverate on the error? I’m not talking about murder or Wall Street Ponzi schemes here. I mean something as simple as missing your trash pick up on Monday morning. You just forgot it Sunday night. Oh, and it was also recycling pick up day, so you missed that too. You feel stupid and even less than competent because you failed to do something so simple. For the next week you walk by the trash containers and feel stabs of guilt and embarrassment. “I’m a moron. A loser.” The overflowing receptacles seem to mock you as you try to ignore their smell, height and girth.

“This will never happen again,” you vow to the squirrel on your deck.

And we have other mental filters that get dirty, filters of guilt and shame, even pride and self interest. A wise young woman named Angela once told me that she had to choose between her divorced parents, who had been at war with each other for her entire life. Freedom and low maintenance were available at Mom’s home. At Dad’s there was contention and constricting rules that suffocated her. He would not listen to her reasonable and logical requests. “My house, my rules. My way or the highway. Do or die.” He was a binary thinker; black and white were the only colors he acknowledged. She wanted to escape Dad’s control, knowing full well that Mom would switch the script once young Angela moved in with her.Image result for black or white pictures

On the other hand she worried about her younger siblings left behind at Dad’s. He hadn’t been the tenderest or most patient father to them when she was present. What would happen to them in her absence? His new wife would be unavailable for months, she knew. Everyone else in her family seemed to be entitled to go on pursuing their lives and livelihoods, but Angela was constrained to stay behind and pick up their messes. She loved each of her family members but not their messes, the blaming, the tough love, the high drama, the double standards. She just wanted to filter it all out somehow without hurting any of them. Every so often she would get so full of pain and anger she felt she would explode and vaporize. She needed a filter change.

Drugs and alcohol were out. Sex too for now. Just too complicated and hard to control. She settled on cutting herself in a neat 3x 4 inch rectangle across her abdomen with a new razor blade. She then cut vertical lines across the short side and horizontal lines across the long side until she had her bloody drama filter. Finally it felt good to breathe again.

“This will never happen again,” she swore to the empty room.

360. 1461 [Days]

In case you were wondering, the title is not a phone number I found; it’s 4 years of days plus one day for leap year. That’s how long I’ve been at this blog business. Averaging 90 posts per year or one every 4 days. Whoa! If this wound up on paper, I could be sued for wasting trees and contributing to global warming. I could also be charged for corrupting miners, except I have never written for or about miners– coal, gold, salt, silver, copper, nada. Internet loitering is not a crime yet. But I plead guilty, my honorable blognoids. I have loitered in cyberland and wasted over a thousand hours in the passionate pursuit of purposelessness.  Yet, never has posting felt like forced duty at the gym or reluctant treadmill time. No, I find it therapeutic to blather into the blogisphere as my life sputters by.

It feels like I’ve been at this a lot longer, but my trusty WordPress stats confirm it– four years. Over 300,000 words easily since most of my posts come in around 1,000 words, my self imposed limit. Along  the way I learned how to import pictures that I scammed off the internet. What a difference that made. I’m a fairly visual guy and love finding images that seem to connect with my eccentric words. Some folks go about with metal detectors and find metallic treasures in fields and stream beds. I go about with my image detectors, my eyes, in search of connective visual tissue. But for me a tiny 8 watt bulb lights up when I find a picture that adds energy to my impoverished, eccentric words, caged in horizontal lines.

Centric means to be in the center or central. Ec & centric means to be off center or outside the circle of centeredness, often taken to mean ‘unconventional and slightly strange’. Outside the box, over the top, in one’s own orbit, marching to the beat of a different drum, etc. Yeah, no argument from me. Looking at my body of work, or is it play?, I’d have to conclude that it constitutes a strange stream of consciousness that sometimes flows uphill, backwards, nowhere, and everywhere; spiraling inward and outward across the limits of time and space. I have written about penguins, vodka, birds, flowers, dogs, gila monsters, coyotes, hitchhiking, God, prison, health, age, youth, music, art, innocence and experience, coffee nation, immigration, politics, love, faith, forgiveness, death, plumbing and the list goes on and on. Why?  Many reasons. I like language. I enjoy writing. I like to entertain, maybe even educate, folks

When I worked as a construction laborer in the early 70’s, I felt there was more to life than shoveling dirt and gravel all day long. I remember reading The Brothers Karamazov that dark winter and feeling deep intellectual and spiritual pings on my soul’s sonar. The messages were not acutely articulated. It was more like whales barking across the ocean. That was the same year I took my trip to England and Scotland, ’73-74, without a plan. I simply followed magnetic fields that drew me elsewhere. At the time I attributed my spontaneity to freedom and nonconformity. Looking back I give God credit for protecting me from my own arrogant stupidity.

Later on I went to college because my closest friends were going. I fell in love with learning and with my future wife, who had odd concepts like goals and structure and discipline. Whew!! I am still amazed and grateful that we continue to travel life’s path together. And still those sonar pings keep hitting my soul, telling me to be elsewhere, beyond this moment that I usually enjoy. Not alone necessarily but elsewhere. I guess it’s the same old wanderlust that led me away from safety and routine in the first place, deep into wooded acres and far across forbidden perimeter roads. Hearing my mother say, “Don’t….” often led to a desire to inhabit the prohibition, unsupervised by adults.

The Gravel Pit was fenced off from our ball field and elementary school yard. Of course older boys had created openings for us to pass through. When The Pit was operating, we’d sit on the surrounding banks and watch the big machines load dump trucks with orange sand and bank run gravel. Duly impressed by the diesel smoke, the loud thuds of a load, and the rumble in the earth as overloaded trucks ground gears across dusty roads. We’d ride out bikes across hillocks of hard clay and jump gullies eroded by years of heavy rains. Days had no numbers then, no end was imaginable beyond one setting sun. Watches and calendars were for adults to worry with. We pursued lizards and turtles and snakes, squirrels and possums, along with the secrets of becoming a young man. After the last employee left the Gravel Pit, we’d inch down like forest creatures and explore their vehicles and sit in backhoes and bull dozers. We were  in awe of the raw power they possessed. Yes, we trespassed but did not vandalize. It was more like going to a museum or an amusement park. We displayed boyish reverence for these enormous clanking monsters.

 They were huge and powerful, and we weren’t… yet.

Richard Cooper had a Suzuki 90 cc motorcycle that he’d ride like a bat out of hell up Dorset Drive and across the school grounds, down into the Gravel  Pit. No helmet. No license. No tags. It was the 60’s, man. I was often on the back of the overloaded machine, hanging on for dear life or any life at all. I have a vivid memory of chasing down a ground hog that was too far from its hole. I caught it under a basket and had no idea what to do next, so I let it go. The outcome did not matter so much. The wild chase, the breathless hunt, the exultant thrill were all that counted. We weren’t huge and powerful, yet.

At nearly 60 years of age I can roughly calculate how many more days I am likely to experience in this life. 7305 if I live to see 80. I’ve never calculated my expiration date before, but I can’t say that any more. So, happy anniversary to me, Burrito Man. Live big but practice humility. It’s easier to carry than shame.

 

337. Holy Bird Poop!

A thousand topics flitter across my brain like bats and barn swallows at sunset. Zippity dooo daah day. That’s how it feels. One will eventually rest on a branch of my mammalian brain, causing a little bounce action I may attend to. Darn work and life get in the way, however, and off flies the batty swallow idea, never to be seen, heard or felt again. I am left with a tinge of frustration, like the early winter night an owl settled in the hickory tree at the end of our lot. I stood quietly on the upper deck, watching the branch bounce beneath his downy weight. I was breathlessly quiet, hoping to spend some time in communion with this creature when my youngest daughter screeched for me on the other side of the sliding door. Whooosh! Away Mr. Owl flew, a big fat missed opportunity. Dang it!!

Now I’m not claiming that some bird is more precious than my precious daughter. If the situation were reversed and I had an owl in my house and my daughter bouncing on a hickory branch, I’d be just as upset when he screeched and she flew. Fair is fair. What I am saying is that opportunities do knock, and sometimes no one is home. Sometimes, through no one’s fault, you just can’t respond, and something like a tragic spasm rips across your abdomen. Yeah, most of us walk around with invisible machete slashes near our navels. “Senor Zoro was here.” At some point we have all been emotionally eviscerated… and can never forget the cold  blade plunging through the rib cage.  You fill in the blank, my friend. Betrayal, grief, shock, horror, disgust, or Donald Trump.

 These things are inevitable if you live long enough. Disappointment and hurt, anger and bitterness can settle in our bones like arthritis, occasionally flaring bursts of pain into our calcified disjointed days… if we let them.

What is far more rare are the twin doves of mercy and grace. I was recently given a HUGE shipment of both from my long suffering wife. Let me just say here, I am not easy to live with. I am snippy and snooty and impatient and hemorrhoidal at times. And unlike the written word, you can’t edit out unartful snarkiness and selfish impatience. Once you ring that rusty iron bell of “me first justice”, you can’t unring it. There is no memory eraser thumb drive that sucks out the stupid, rude bloviations that come out of my mouth. I’d love to get one with a historical rewind feature, but they don’t exist. So we have the hardened crud of negative interactions dried onto the memory plate, burned on the sacred skillet of marriage. Can I get an amen? Or am I the only husband in America who frustrates the woman he loves to the point where she wants to kill him with a ball bat but pulls back due to the holidays and family feelings and the fact that she just bought me Christmas presents?  Maybe in the new year, once things are settled down, she can kill me without so many complications, while the local police are at domestic violence conventions in Florida.

You see, I am a part time (okay, full time) mockingbird. Annoying, and yet sometimes welcome. For instance…

… the title and central metaphor of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In that novel, mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous, and two of the major characters, Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie, say it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because “they don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us”.

Well, they can still be quite annoying. Just ask a cat on a still summer day as a mockingbird swoops and squawks at it relentlessly.  I confess, I have swooped and squawked at many a cat, wife and kid around my house. It’s not right but it is true that we show our worst, our crowiest selfus

to those closest to us.

I don’t know what mockingbirds eat, but I do know what forgiveness tastes and feels like– it is the finest honey anyone ever poured out and the purest balm on an open wound.  Makes me feel like a hummingbird amid an oasis of divine nectar. Unearned joy erupts in my heart’s furious flutters– it’s a recovered onside kick with 18 seconds on the clock and victory is suddenly possible again after hope was dashed on cruel rocks. (Yes, the Packers game is on behind me; however, I am vigilantly on task against mixed metaphorical language.)

So let me go with the big message here. You can’t unring the rusty bell of justice, Blog sparrows, true. Our world is broken and sinful, and I am good at both brokenness and sin. Maybe you are too. That morbid iron bell rings out our trespasses and failures, calling us to the shackles of the past. The only antidote I know is the crystal bell of mercy that says it’s all behind us now. This bell calls us to a banquet of mercy and grace, milk and honey, love and faith. Long ago birds were seen as messengers between mortals and God, since they traversed the heavens but nested on earth.  Well, maybe they still are. Even mockingbirds.

 

 

307. Mr. Scratch Off

I just noticed him again, sitting in the alleyway outside my office. Early morning, bent over a lottery scratch off sheet, methodically rubbing a coin across the silver filmed boxes under which fortune awaits him. “Oh Luck!  Strike me. Fulfill me”,  I imagine him saying to the goddess Fortuna. He’s older, maybe 70’s with a cool ball cap on his head. Alone, very alone.

Now maybe it’s because earlier this morning I heard Otis Redding singing “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, but the lyric … “and this loneliness won’t leave me alone” floats across my consciousness. Lonely and alone are not equivalents. Lonely is a qualitative state versus alone which is a quantitative measure.  As I walk by him again, I am not lonely though I am alone. I just left my monthly peer group breakfast book share. The six of us old guys had a lovely time and talk together, discussing David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Good stuff. Good community, like a good cup of coffee, is so rare among men, regardless of the content covered, becomes awesome when layered over with the cream of a good book.Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay

My peer group is composed of retired therapists– one MD/PhD, three PhDs, and two MS guys. Average age is mid sixties. I’m the only one still working and barely still in my fifties, (okay, 59) and they thank me for paying toward their Social Security and Medicare programs. And you know what?  I find it a privilege to keep these old geezers going. There is a lot of experience and wisdom in those other five noggins that is freely shared because of their gracious spirits. I deeply enjoy the camaraderie and know we share a mutual appreciation. (And I’m not sucking up since they don’t read my blog, okay? Why you gotta be like that? Sshheeesh!!)

One thing I am sure of– these men are not lonely nor are they putting their hopes in lottery tickets or some other unlikely probability. They have been delayers of gratification, putting off the pleasure of the moment for the greater good in the distance. All served others professionally with disciplined grace. On top of all that they managed to make a decent living in the human services. That’s a pretty big deal by itself, but what is more impressive in my book is that these dudes are retired yet still sharpening their wits and expanding their horizons. Who does that? Only rare birds. I want to be like that when I grow up and out of the buzziness of the working world.

In his book Brooks proposes two states of man or Adam. Adam I, the resume man; and Adam II, the eulogy man. Achievement and competition come from Adam 1. Character comes from the second Adam as he soldiers through suffering. As Greg said, “There are so many pithy comments in these pages… here’s another.”  Page 15, “Adam 1 aims for happiness, but Adam 2 knows happiness is insufficient.” The Adam 2 folks Brooks describes learned to quiet themselves in the valley of humility. That’s a big valley, but as I recall my trek through Sabino Canyon, it was a humbling experience feeling like I was in between God’s majestic fingers. Yeah, humility came over me like a storm cloud raining torrents of gratitude.

My prayer was not for more or a lightning bolt of happiness to hit me. No. I was in the moment of joy, connected to the Creator via His creation. Luck had nothing to do with it as I sat in the shade of a mesquite tree with hummingbirds flitting over me. Not luck but blessings showered over me so much that the molecules buzzed like minute grateful cicadas. Blessings do not leave one lonely since they come from a relationship. Luck on the other hand is a piece of cold statistical probability.  Mr. Scratchoff could be a winner if 12 million other players lose. At the end of the day he will remain alone and outside a relationship with his material winnings.
“I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time”

Perhaps more tragic is when someone like Mr. Scratchoff does hit it big, like the big game hunter who knocks down a rare lion only to have it devoured by hyenas as he stands by helplessly, he winds up emptier than when he began. What is not earned is lost almost as soon as it appears, my blogerras. So scratch it now– all or nothing– or wait on faith to get somewhere incrementally, no, sacramentally.

122. Polar bears in a snowstorm

Image result for polar bear picturesThe blank page is like a white wall that must be adorned. Words and symbols and art need to fill the void, cutting a door or window through the opaque white fog of not quite consciousness.  Otherwise we’re all polar bears in a snowstorm, unconnected and hopelessly lost. The simple act of typing letters, then words, then sentences claims the void and brings purpose to the blank.  A horizon is seen and the brain can find itself in space. It seems to me that the empty page is comparable to a bare canvas for a painter or silence for a musician. It’s a space and time to be filled with expression.

I don’t begin with a destination or an agenda usually. It’s fairly apparent if you’ve read my blog for a while. I hop in, turn the ignition, and back out to the past or pull away into the present. Depends on the mood and circumstances of my life. Once I’ve gotten warmed up, I think of a destination. It works for me. I’m not an engineer of words or an architect. I just write like I think and speak; at least I think I do.

My day job, as you may have gleaned, is a counselor. I listen to folks for 8 to 10 hours a day. I enjoy it immensely because I genuinely like my clients. Very few of them have to be there in my office. They come of their own free wills and remain as free agents. They don’t have to put up with me. They choose to pay me for each expensive hour and believe that value is added to their lives by engaging in the counseling process. I find the whole deal to be very gratifying as well as highly accountable for me. If I don’t do my job well  (and this is completely subjective on my clients’ parts), I lose. No explanation is needed. The client just does not show up again. I don’t need a committee report or a state investigation to determine if I’ve done a good job. Clients return; it’s that simple.

Image result for high stakes pictures

I try not to think of the high stakes of my business. I’m not much of a business guy anyhow. I can’t afford to expend the energy necessary to worry about things outside of my control.  Instead, I try to focus fully on the person(s) in front of me at the moment. I block out the phone ringing in the next room, the mailman popping in and out, the townsfolk noisily shuffling by my first floor window. There is always someone suing someone else, but I can’t worry about that either. If I remain focused with my client, I’ll be okay legally, morally, ethically, and financially. Why? Because I believe I will be and my life’s experience confirms my belief. I have been blessed thus far in life that the risks I have taken have not blown up in my face.

Image result for landscape greeting cards pictures

Writing is an outlet for me, I suppose. Back when I was a teacher, I used greeting cards as a creative outlet. I’d spend an intensely absorbed two hours drawing and painting little greeting cards. It worked for me. However, I noticed that as soon as I left the stress of teaching behind, I had no desire to make my cards. In some weird way I suppose this blog has replaced the cardmaking for creative expression and resetting the psychic balance. Listening to others intently for 40 to 50 hours a week can turn your mind into a mushroom if you don’t push back with exercise, good diet and sleep, love and creativity. So this therapeutic alliance with words is at play behind the musings and wonderment of my posts. And sometimes it is just play, dodgeball with words and ideas, trying to hit some idea with the right set of words.

This week I’ve spent with my daughter and brand new granddaughter in Tucson, Arizona. Every day has started without any agenda. Newborns don’t permit agendas. They are for older, controllable folks. Newborns are iffy about sleep. Sure, they sleep more than cats do, but it can be two hours here and three there, and you don’t get to pick which hours. They eat and wet and cry and poop when they’re feeling it, not on your timetable. So it would be futile to maintain a timetable. Baby Leah took her first bottle last night, which was unexpected and somewhat magical for her dad. Her mother Grace took a picture and sighed a mom’s proud and sad sigh, “My baby is growing up!” Underneath that comment was perhaps the first sense of her separation from her baby. It’s an odd mixture of joy and loss, thrill and melancholy. A healthy person feels both; accepts both; and then focuses on the positive emotion.

All of us think about what is best for this eight pound glow worm. I guess that is the agenda after all. How rare it is to stay so focused on the needs of another for so long. But that other is nothing but needs wrapped in cute outfits. Something about her totally innocent clinging dependence reminds me of marsupial babies that live in pouches. But there is the glow worm body as well. Hmm… here is one of those dodgeball ideas. Imagine Lowly Worm in a pale green swaddling blanket tucked into the pouch of a soft bellied Velveteen Rabbit. Percolate for a moment. The little worm’s face glows, though it seems asleep or drunk on mother’s milk. Happy light shines out of slitted eyes. Put a wee little cap on her head– yellow and pink. Paint the whole picture with colors not in your paintbox– warm yawning lavender, snuggly nose pink dawn, dusty cheek rose. There you go. That’s better than a laundry line full of white sheets in a snowstorm.

Image result for toy glow worm pictures

I’ll close with lyrics from Johnny Mercer’s “Glow Worm”. You can follow up with a visit to YouTube to hear the melodious Mills Brothers sing it.

Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Lead us lest too far we wander
Love’s sweet voice is calling yonder
Shine little glow-worm, glimmer, glimmer
Hey, there don’t get dimmer
Light the path below, above
And lead us on to love!
Image result for glow worm pictures