Sunday, October 29, 2006

On Being a Good Starter

So, the other day I was feeling low about being a good starter, but not a particularly good finisher (at least in some areas of life). I read this short paragraph in the last pages of a novel I was finishing:

"You are your own beginning. Every day, every hour, every minute, you start again. There is no point wishing you were someone else, you are who you are - start there." the palm kisser offers.

"Music For Torching", A.M. Homes, 1999, p.324

This book reminds me a bit of John Updike's "Rabbit Run" (and Rabbit Redux, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest) with the boozy, sleazy suburbanites trying to find meaning in their lives. Like Harry and Janet Angstrom, the characters in "Music For Torching" are looking for escape from their lives in a middle class neighborhood - mostly through sex with the neighbors.

Elaine and Paul decide that burning down their house will make them feel better - a little stress relief - but it just makes them realize how firmly they are tied to the place and all it represents. On the bus to work one day, Paul meets a man who gives him wise advice and kisses his palm.....the palm kisser.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Outgoing, not Incoming

Well Sparky, we're making progress. After going through some of my closets, I've rid myself of some crap. I had a big box of really nice, heavy duty, Fox River Paper Company "Confetti" paper in great fall colors. I took it to the Print Center at work. They said they have a collective PAPER FETISH, so I knew they'd appreciate it. They're decorating for an open house next week and I found them happily cutting paper leaves on Friday.

Then I gave the 20 year old wool yarn to a co-worker named Fran. When I delivered the paper, I mentioned the yarn. Dona said that Fran knits hats, scarves, and mittens for the homeless - so I asked Fran if she's interested. She was. She now has a big bag-o-guilt from me! She said she also wanted the fabric and old clothes, but I can identify a fellow hunter and gatherer.....for her own good I made other plans. (I mean, this is a woman who bought a violin in the campus mall and she had never played one in her life.) I figure the yarn will keep her busy for awhile.

Today we took 3 bags and 2 boxes of clothes and fabrics to Good Will. I am now done with Round 1.

I also said NO to an invitation to a Creative Memories Scrapbook party for tomorrow. I'd really like to go, but I can see a whole new project getting out of hand. At this point, it's all about OUTGOING not INCOMING.

Now, who can I give these extra pounds to???

The second bit of news Sparky is that I played my first, official round of golf. My city has a 3-par-hole municipal course, so it's not a difficult layout. I was a little nervous after taking lessons on the driving range. I think I scored a 53 on 9 holes, which is not particularly good ('s actually pretty bad considering that par for 9 holes is 27) but I did have a few good holes and some decent shots.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dog Blog

I found this cartoon on someone's blog.....I didn't make a note of where I got it or who created it. My apologies to the Creative Ones of the world:
My own dog Jack is the pointless, incessant barking type. He's a Sheltie, so it's really not his fault. His brain is wacked somewhere deep inside and he can't control himself. It's genetic - like ADHD. He can go from a dead sleep on the couch to a flying, full-tilt, barking mania in 2 seconds. It's really quite amazing.

We've tried everything to curtail this charming behavior. Here are a few of the things recommended and tried:
  • Treats for good behavior (it happens so rarely...).
  • Teaching him to "Bark" on command and then teaching him the "No Bark" command (yeah, like that's really going to work....he gets the BARK part, but can't grasp the NO BARK part. The theory is better than the practice).
  • Ignoring and turning your back on him (he couldn't care less).
  • Teaching the "Watch Me" command, so he pays attention to me and miraculously forgets about the squirrel/bird/cat/leaf/dog/plastic bag (hahahaha) .
  • The "Leave It" command (this works in some non-barking instances, such as "Get your head out of the litter box and leave the cat poop alone", but it's useless on a speeding dog)
  • The water squirt bottle (doesn't faze him).
At the dogpark the other day, I was chatting with the owners of two Shelties: Minnie and Maggie (the dogs' names, not the owners'). They said they had also tried every conceivable remedy for barking and none had worked. Shelties, as a breed, are notorious talkers. We commiserated over our failures and I felt better. My dog was aimlessly barking at everyone and I could observe him as a phenomenon. He just has alot to say I guess.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Downsizing Crap

Hey Sparky.....I'm working at downsizing some things in my life. The first thing to downsize is the old bod. That's a toughie these days because I'm gettin older and I don't care as much as I used to. In the early days I wanted to look good and I worked at it. I took aerobics. I ran. I did weights. I swam. I walked. If I gained a pound or two I lost it right away. I was never skinny, but I was in the realm of "NORMAL".

About the time I hit 40 I didn't care so much. I figured I could eat a candy bar if I felt like it. I'd earned it. I was a feminst 40-something and, dammit, I'd eat what I please!!! After 10 years of doing just that, we have a problem Spark. The torso is a bit LARGE.

I started doing Circuit Weight Training at work. The Circuit is a series of cardio and weight machines - you do one minute per machine and then move to the next. It's kind of fun and moves pretty fast. You have to spend 40 minutes in order to get a credit for the day. I've been going 3 times a week with some co-workers and it's been fun.

The other downsizing I'm doing is in my closets and drawers. I have crap from over 10 years and two states ago. Tonight I pulled out a bag of really nice yarn that I purchased in St. Paul, Minnesota. A blizzard was coming and I wanted a project to work on, so I started an afghan/throw. That was in 1985. I just haven't been able to part with that really nice yarn (100% Virgin Wool from the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell, Nebraska - expensive, soft - still in it's original bag from a shop at Como Park). I pull it out and admire it every couple of years and then put it back in the closet. This week the yarn's going to Good Will for some other poor slob to fret over for the next few years.

I also have beautiful fabrics that I bought in Iowa City (circa 1990), fully intending to sew into beautiful skirts and jackets. I never made them, but I can envision them clearly in my mind....along with:
  • the baby quilt I never finished for a friend (the kid is now 9).
  • The sofa pillows I never stitched.
  • The upholstery seat covers I didn't get to.
  • The wool that is too pretty to cut.
  • The antique linens I never finished embroidering.
  • The piping I didn't pipe.
  • The would-be tablecloths and vests and shirts.
It's all going to Good Will.

Ok, so I'm noticing a pattern here Sparky. I'm not a very good finisher. That's kind of like being a quitter. Which is not too far from being a non-starter. That doesn't sound too good. HMMmmmmm......what's the old line about good intentions and that scary road?

I haven't even begun to look at my other craft stuff like ceramic paints and rubber stamps and all that other shit. I once had a little card business, so I have lots of left-over paper that I never use.

Like an alchoholic, I'm taking one day at a time. One battle at a time. The FIRST STEP is to confess and admit I need help (just like the Lutherans, eh Sparky? hahahaha).

The First Step.......hey......wait a minute......I can do that! Because I'm a great starter!!!


Monday, October 16, 2006

Playing Oregon Golf

I've been taking golf lessons over the past month. They are group lessons offered as a community education course through the college. We go to the local municipal course and have been using the driving range to learn how to swing and hit. The driving range is covered and sheltered from the weather.

On the days that we used the driving range, the weather was warm, sunny, beautiful. The last two classes were out on the course and, of course, we had RAIN both days.

Last week we practiced chipping and putting while getting drenched. Yesterday we played four holes in driving wind, pouring rain, gray skies, cold temperatures. The one good thing was that we were the only group on the course - and we were slow and terrible. Each hole is a par 3 and I'm sure we each hit at least 7 strokes per hole.

Everything was soaked: jacket, pants, shoes, clubs, bag, glove. I learned that there is a whole bunch of stuff that golfers can buy to play Oregon Golf, including waterproof pants and jackets, special gloves, shoes, etc. Maybe if I just had more things I'd be a better golfer?????

Friday, October 06, 2006

Oregon - Land of Strange Deaths & Laika

Oregon is a land of strange deaths. I noticed it right away when we moved to the state in 1992. We heard tales of tourists standing on the edge of seacliffs, straining to get a good view of the ocean. The rock beneath their feet would crumble and they would be gone.

There are some beautiful hikes in the Columbia Gorge - the trails follow cliffs high along the riverways. Warning signs alert hikers to the dangers of standing too near the edge - and advise that dogs be leashed so they don't chase birds over the precipice - yet folks still plummet down the ravines. One hiker fell down a steep embankment and had to be airlifted out, only to learn later that in addition to a broken leg - he also had a brain tumor (which caused the fall).

A grandfather, father, and young son go out in the woods to cut a Christmas tree. They get separated. The young son disappears, not to be found for several years.

Mountain climbers and skiiers go up to Mount Hood. The fall into deep crevasses or ski out of bounds and are lost. Sometimes the ski patrols and helicopters find them. Sometimes they walk out of the woods. Sometimes they are just gone.

Here's the latest strange and haunting incident that happened just yesterday. An elderly couple was driving along and a rock came through the windshield, killing the woman:
Freak accident - An Idaho woman dies on the Oregon Coast after a 10-pound rock comes out of nowhere
The Oregonian, Friday, October 06, 2006
Andy Dworkin

A football-sized rock crashed through the windshield of a pickup driving a busy, open stretch of U.S. 101 on Thursday, killing an Idaho woman sitting in the passenger seat.

Carol M. Martin, 75, of Coeur d'Alene died just after being hit by the 10-pound rock. The rock might have been tossed into the air after being lodged between the dual tires of a passing truck, said Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings. Authorities are investigating the cause and have not identified any truck.

Police have interviewed her husband, Gerald, who was driving, but hope to find witnesses who can add details of the fatal freak accident, which happened about 11:40 a.m. Thursday.

The Martins were visiting the coast .....when the big rock broke the windshield. ....The rock smashed Carol Martin's neck and shoulder.

"We've been married 39 years, and it's pretty hard when you lose a spouse out here coming home from a vacation when you have a great time," Martin said in the television interview.

How does one make sense of things like this? Is there any sense to be made? I don't know. People say that when your time comes, it comes.

This story reminds me of an old, favorite movie called "My Life As A Dog". A young boy suffers a variety of harships and he regularly compares his lot with that of others who have had worse situations. In particular, he thinks about the Russian dog Laika. She was the first living creature sent into space on board Sputnik 2 and there were no plans to bring her back to earth alive.

The boy looks at the starry sky and compares his life to hers. In that comparison he realizes that there are worse fates than what he suffers. He gains perspective. He finds a companion. He seeks to make sense, which is what we all do.

As the Moody Blues say, "Isn't Life Strange?"