Sunday, January 24, 2010


One of my favorite scenes in the movie Castaway is when Tom Hank's Noland character builds a fire. He thumps his chest with his fist, stating in a cave man voice "I make fire!"
His reaction made me smile. I can relate. I feel a bit of this sensation with every fire I build.
Fire gives us heat, we can cook over it and it gives us light. I've grown up with an appreciation of fire. I grew up camping with my family. I loved roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to make s'mores. I love the smell of a campfire and the smell that the smoke leaves on whatever is near to it.
I was a member of the Girl Scouts from second grade through to my freshman year of college. I camped with my family and went to Girl Scout camp from the fifth grade until my freshman year of college. In Girl Scouts, we sang a song called "Rise up o flame." I believe, especially when I was younger, that we were calling to the flames, as a snake charmer's flute speaks to the cobra. We would sing
Rise up o flame
by thy light glowing
show to us beauty
vision and joy
and as we sang, the flames would leap higher and the fire would grow. In my mind, fire has always been magical- almost spiritual. I've often felt there are answers within the flames, if we study them intently enough. For me, the experience of camping has always been a comforting, relaxing time. During the tough years, after my divorce, I would often escape from life and go camping by myself. Friends would fuss after me, telling me that camping alone was dangerous. Camping alone was a life saver for me. I would sit in the evenings looking at the campfire, beer in hand and think. It was an excellent time for sorting out all of the tangled thoughts swirling around inside of my head. I always went back home with a feeling of gratitude, rested and refreshed.
I've been building fires probably since I was ten years old. When you build a fire, one starts very small, shavings of wood or a bit of dry grass and then slowly you feed the fire, adding larger pieces of fuel. I always felt proud of being able to build a fire.
My ex and I had a wood burning stove in our basement and heated our house with wood for many years when the cost of fuel oil was beyond our budget. I would come home to a cold house and head downstairs wearing my coat or a sweater or sweatshirt. We kept logs turned up on end before the fire to sit on. It was always a peaceful time at the end of a work day.
Now, the duggles and I have a fireplace insert in our keeping room and on cool rainy days or snowy evenings, I love to build a fire and sit before it.
The heat from a fire permeates your body, soaking through to your bones. The skin on your face grows hot and dry from the heat. To me, there is nothing like the heat of a fire.
I don't thump my chest when I build a fire but I do believe I always feel a sense of pride and accomplishment each time.
"Well, will you look at that!"
Then with a contented sigh, I sit back to enjoy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

Gap Creek is the book that I finished reading while sitting in the waiting room of St. Vincent's hospital a couple of days ago.
In January, 2000, Oprah named Gap Creek her book club selection. I picked up Gap Creek at *Half-Price in Indianapolis for $1. Amazon carries copies for half of that. I have become a Half-Price book snob, as I head for the clearance section and rarely venture beyond.
It may be helpful to know that Gap Creek follows The Truest Pleasure. I did not know that, so now I will read them backwards. No bother. I studied Brit Lit II before Brit Lit I and that didn't do any damage.
As the title states, Gap Creek is the story of a marriage. Personally, I was prepared for a sappy love story, but that isn't the case at all. Robert Morgan who grew up in North Carolina, near the Blue Ridge Mountains, writes what he knows. Seventeen year old Julie Harmon lives in the Appalachian Mountains. She grew up on the mountain and until she marries Hank Richards, she had never ventured off of the mountain. Julie and Hank move to Gap Creek where Hank is employed. Hank and Julie marry rather quickly with stars in their eyes, but are shocked into reality in a short amount of time. Life in the Appalachian Mountains is hard. Julie had grown up working, working like a man. She could split wood and slaughter hogs and about anything that needs to be done. She works, in her opinion, out of necessity. The work is there, it needs to be done, there is no one else to do it, so she does.
Robert Morgan writes with great, colorful descriptions. He describes the first time that Hank and Julie have sex, childbirth, a flood and an ice-storm vividly using colors to express what the characters experience.
When Hank and Julie marry, Hank is immature and selfish. It is amazing how quickly he matures as he and Julie process all of the travails that is poured upon them. This book is about marriage, and it is about life. This story captures how life goes on and there isn't anything that any of us can do to stop it. We are swept up and survive. Some of us fight harder than others, but we work our way through.
Morgan has written prolifically, see his website for a complete listing of his publications. When I choose a book randomly, I have to admit the first thing that grabs me is the cover (I know..."don't judge a book by it's cover"). Then I will read the back, the description of the story, the comments and then I open the book and begin to read the first paragraph or so. A truly good book will "grab you" immediately. Gap Creek did that for me. Another book that I chose at Half-Price was "Hinterlands," also by Morgan. I didn't realize that until I looked at his web page. Now, I'm looking forward to reading that. And, the book that precedes Gap Creek, The Truest Pleasure.
*no endorsement for Half-Price books, it is a place I frequent as often as possible, in my opinion, a little bit of heaven.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waiting-room etiquette

Because this is where I spent my day, today, I would like to address a few points concerning waiting-room etiquette:

1. If you have a conversation, please do so quietly.
2. If you are watching a movie on your laptop, please use your ear buds.
3. If you are having a conversation on your cell phone, please do so quietly.
(Or step to a private area so we don't all have to sit there and listen to you yack.)
4. If you are seated in a waiting area, don't sit there and stare at someone as if something is wrong with them. They might be related to the person that is sitting there watching you stare. (You know who you are.)

I sat in the waiting room all day today while my mother had knee replacement surgery. (Story to be continued in a subsequent post.) My dad, brother and sister were there, too. I finished the book I was currently reading. (Book review to follow in a subsequent post.) I read two chapters in another book. I read a portion of
Kelly Rae Roberts book. (My sister was quite impressed, because the hospital gift shop was selling some of her work.) When someone was watching a program on her laptop without the courtesy of wearing ear buds, I got out my ipod nano and put my ear buds into my ears and proceeded to listen to music and then to play a few games. My sister looked across the waiting room and said "are you really listening to something or did you just put those in your ears so we wouldn't talk to you?" (Never occurred to me.) Then when the lady who was rude, left the waiting area, I told my family that I put my ear buds in because the woman was being so rude and playing her laptop for all to hear. Then my family proceeded to make fun of the way that I said "rude."
I was so worried about mother that I didn't sleep well last night. It is an hour and a half each way to and from the hospital. Drove over in thick fog and was flipped off by a driver when I pulled over in front of him when I didn't see him in the fog. Nice start to the day.
Mother was in surgery for two and a half hours and seemed fine when I left the hospital. She seemed a bit dopey, but fine. I am going to toddle off to bed, now, but will tell you more about my mother's knee replacement journey soon. Nighty-night.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

This is why

Recently, in one of the blogs that I often read, the author said that she never gets bored. I do get bored. I feel ignorant people are boring, work that isn't stimulating is boring, ad nausam routine is boring.
Am I especially exciting or dynamic? I don't think so. With the exception of of a handful of people and a couple of animals, I do not have any particular importance. I make an effort to live an interesting life. I try to surround myself with people who are intelligent, stimulating and active. I want to be around people who inspire me. I enjoy life-long learning. When I get involved with a project, I do my homework, researching and learning all that there is to know. Thriving on being busy, working hard, I go, go, go.
Then I need to stop. I need to rest. This is why I love to stay home. The peace, the tranquility, the simplicity of staying home replenishes me, revives me, re-charges my batteries so that I might get back at it.
beyond the deck, this morning.
the fire that I built, first thing
warms me to the bone
between the fire and myself
beside me
our afternoon walk
plowing through
what was that?
the branches of our formidable pine create a frame
sunset on the farm
the hands that I love

Not one time did I leave the house. Not one moment was I bored.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The process

I wanted to show my Christmas card with you. I wanted to wait until the cards had gone out, didn't want to spoil the surprise for my friends and family. My card.
With slight variations,
I sent the same card to everyone.

inside the card

signed and dated by the designer

For the first time,
I used a tri-level stamp (the weeds).
A separate stamp contained text.

I used three to four different colors of stickles to decorate the heads of the weeds.

Each item dried overnight. If the ink or stickles get smeared, the effort is wasted. cards dried on top of the table, on the seat of chairs on the ironing board

Because I waited to make my cards until days before they needed to be mailed, it was a tremendous amount of work in a short amount of time. I work full time, so everything was done in the evenings. I worked until I could barely move. Stayed up late. Fifty cards. Note to self: next year, start the process earlier!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A study of black on white

We may have gotten four to five inches of snow today.
Chelsea LOVES snow! black Corgi, white snow
" Chelsea?"
"Hey, Chels!"
"whatcha doin'?"
"How did you get all of that snow on your face?"
(she snuffles

Deep in thought, deep in snow

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

First post of 2010

Happy New Year! A card I received from Dr. Amy

I started my New Year off with a bang! Or, rather, a bangity-bang-bang-thump-plunk.

On New Year's Eve, Doug and I went to Olive Garden for dinner (my request). Then, home to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve (bless Dick Clark's heart- isn't he the bravest)? Then, we sipped one glass of champagne and kissed at midnight. After that, we watched a movie that Doug borrowed from the library- "The Station Agent." It won the Sundance Film Festival in '02 or '03 I believe. In the end, we were up until 2 a.m.
I slept rather late. In fact, Doug woke me when he opened the door to see if I was still breathing. When I went to shower, somehow I slipped and took a terrible fall. I fell OUT of the shower, hitting my backside on the side of the tube, then hit the toilet so hard that it stripped one of the screws holding the seat on, then I hit the sink and finally fell to the floor on my back. Chelsea came to the door barking and Doug ran to the door yelling "unlock this door!"
I am o.k., but have been rather sore and my tail bone is bruised. (Painful as I sit here and type this.)
Saturday afternoon, New Castle Kathy came for an overnight.

This is how we spent Sunday afternoon.

When we were all out in Colorado, all of the guests gathered each evening in the lodge to play "chicken foot." I love this game and we played it over and over. We kept saying "one more game." It was one degree when we woke and playing dominos was a great way to spend the afternoon.
Other than my fall, the new year is off to a great start. I started a Pilates class at the Y and have walked three times with my new nano. I am fired up to eat healthy and to organize and get rid of. Not that you can tell by the looks of the house. I'm at that "worse before it gets better stage." I'm not asking for resolutions, but what are your hopes for the new year?

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