Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday Quote: On the Past and Future

"The stories that you tell about your past shape your future."

--Eric Ransdell

The Meeting: The Blogosphere Converges on Real Life

Wednesday was difficult. Teri from Bo of the Bales, Jennifer of Wonderfully Ill Composed and I had agreed to meet at a used bookstore in a town we were all going to be near this week. Jennifer was once one of Great Scott’s students, and we’re familiar enough for me to be totally relaxed around her, but Teri I had never met in person before. It’s difficult meeting new people. You want to make a good impression on them. You want them to make a good impression on you. You want everyone to be peachy-keen and cozy right from the start. You are an INFP harmony seeker of the very worst sort. You set yourself up.

The couple of hours the three of us spent browsing a used bookstore and over lunch were pleasant. We talked about Jennifer’s upcoming trip to London, Teri’s kids, our literary tastes and distastes and tried happily without success for the most part, to find people we might know in common, growing up as we all have within the same general area. Jennifer seemed pretty much at ease, and Teri was bright and encouraging, an excellent conversationalist. I, on the other hand, couldn’t string four words together without my thoughts either getting muddled or losing the order in which I’d intended them to come out. I wasn’t feeling shy. I wasn’t even particularly nervous or antsy. The words just jammed if someone asked me a question. It wasn’t a new phenomenon, and although I apologized to Teri and blamed it on introversion’s need to process internally before speaking into the external world, I realized later more than that was going on. It had happened that morning while visiting with my grandmother. It happened later that afternoon when Jennifer and I ran by Great Scott’s classroom to take him chocolate. My brain was simply shorting out.

This happens occasionally, especially when seasonal mood swings set in. Low-level depression saps mental energy even more than physical, and the brain becomes easily muddled. I begin needing lists to go to the store. Lists for two items. Lists for one item. Lists for one item that I have to concentrate to remember in order to write it down. Plural: lists (I’ll lose just one), lists I triple check at the store and sometimes still don’t manage to bring home everything (both things). In this mode it takes me forever to cook a meal, because I forget what I’m fixing or how to fix it. It is not unusual for me to find myself standing bewildered in the middle of the kitchen holding an onion on one hand and a can opener in the other with no idea of how to open the onion or what to do with it once it’s open. This is what happened Wednesday. Trust befuddlement to strike at the same time as the ridiculous urge to make a good impression.

“It’s ok, Hon,” Scott comforted me when I told him about my awkwardness and Teri’s very sincere and very obvious patience and kindness. “Jennifer understands, and Teri probably just thinks you’re a socially inept genius. People think that about your dad all the time.” I overlooked the potential, playful insult to my relational skills and decided to take the double compliment instead: a genius and like my father. Being compared to Dad is a consolation any day, and Scott had been far too sweet in his delivery to be baiting me. Besides, I really had no energy for a comeback.

I went to bed early that night, then sat up after all, reading Kay Redfield Jamison’s Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, a book I’d long coveted and had found that day in the bookstore. Probably not the best choice of reading material given my condition, but it was helpful in a way, reestablishing for me the fact that the fogginess and dimming of the inner countries come and go without apparent rhyme or reason for some of us, and that when they do, what matters isn’t that one stumbled one’s way through a social situation with all the grace of an intoxicated elephant. What matters, indeed, is one’s willingness to continue stumbling and the grace and kindness with which those stumbles are received.

So, Teri and Jennifer, I thank you for Wednesday’s grace: your good company, your forbearance, your wit and your brightness. I’m grateful, and I'm chalking that grace up in my gifts and blessings column instead of lumping my own bumblings into the failures column. Lunch and the bookstore browse were fun. You are both most wonderfully enjoyable companions, and I gladly join Jane Kenyon in her oft repeated assertion of appreciation, “What clever friends I have. What clever friends I have!”*

[*Kenyon’s quote from Alice Mattison’s essay, “Let it Grow in the Dark Like a Mushroom” as published in the book Bright Unequivocal Eye: Poems, Papers and Remembrances from the First Jane Kenyon Conference, edited by Bert G. Hornback.]

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Worth Reading: Frankenwasher: the Poem

Occasionally you run into something on the Web that tickles your fancy. I am a very serious person in real life. This is why I post so much frivolity on this blog; it's an attempt to lighten up, to remind myself that life is also fraught with the absurd. Poetry, like life, can be a pretty serious business, and poets are renown for being deep and philosophically moody. This is why, when I run across a poem that makes me laugh out loud for sheer, gleeful pleasure, I appreciate it doubly. And the fact that I'm married to the author? I'd say that just confirms my good taste.

Go read Frankenwasher: Prometheus was All Wet.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Friday Quote: On What Determines Who We Really Are

"It is not our abilities that show who we really are. It is our choices."

--from the character Adolphus Dumbledore
in the movie "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Instead of Blogging: Things I've Done in the Past Nine Days

1. Worked the school book fair.
2. Visited and run errands with my grandmother.
3. Parent-Teacher conferences.
4. Taxes.
5. Paid monthly bills.
6. Packaged up Jif Extra Crunchy to send across the pond.
7. More pen and paper journaling than usual.
8. Drafted two new poems...or maybe three.
9. Taken the girls to the library.
10. Spent a slow weekend watching movies with Scott and the girls. (Note: I have lived the movie "Junebug", although not so much in regard to Great Scott's family.)
11. Cleaned strawberry vomit out of pale beige carpeting at 3:00 a.m.
12. Watched an amaryllis open into a flourish of deep red trumpets in my windowsill.
13. Obsessed over fountain pens.
14. Spent a day with the girls in Springfield for dental visits, spring shoe shopping and a trip to Borders.
15. Had a long overdue visit with a friend.
16. Laughed with my brother on the phone.
17. Battled a false self.
18. Made pound cake from scratch.
19. Cleaned fallen branches and twigs out of the yard.
20. Stayed functional, if not optimal.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Last night and into the early hours of this morning the National Weather Service had 56 reports of tornados in the Ozarks with more across the midwest. Scott and I sat up until the first line of storms was past. Then we fell asleep in the living room, leaving the television on, vivid radar colors splashing across the screen, to wait for the second line. The girls, who usually sleep upstairs were snugged cozily into our bed, and my closet had been cleared out and a radio and some batteries and blankets tucked into the corners, just in case. Somewhere around 1:00-1:30 a.m. I woke up to find Scott had retired to the girls' bed and the second line of storms was upon us.

Our internet connection is dial-up, and we'd be stupid to leave our computers plugged into either electrical outlets or phone lines during a Missouri thunderstorm, especially after having lost two modems and a monitor that way. So there was no live blogging the storms that shook the house and pelted the windows with tiny hail. I did, however, journal parts of the evening, and at the risk of exposing my unedited thoughts, will share.

[approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday]
Presently I'm lying on the couch watching the news. Evidently last night several tornados went through Missouri, one of them in Vanzant, another in Branson. Currently they're tracking three more. It isn't storming here, although the wind speaks to the fact that somewhere not too far away, it is. On the map, a N->S line of storms is advancing on Springfield from the west, a line with tornado(s) very possibly and likely within it. Welcome to spring in Missouri.

[Scribbled near-absentminded notes while we watched the storm line press its way into Springfield]
When the winds begin
tearing at the roof and flinging
limbs against the walls--hear
them creak and pop with the changing
pressure--When the rain chills and hardens, tries
to break inside, smashes
holes in siding, crashes through the picture
windows, wrenching curtains from their rods, stripping
finish from the sills. When the roar
surrounds your body, solidifies the air
within your lungs,
When the storm comes, find
the lowest point, descend,
go to the center...

[approximately 10:10-20 p.m. (?)]
Listening to Springfield's KY3's live news. When they brought in hail the size of a half dollar, the studio was fairly quiet. Now you can hear the hail on the station roof like gangbusters, the weathermen are practically yelling, and the hail they're showing is the size of something between golf and tennis balls...Now bigger than tennis balls...And now it's quiet. It's quiet because it's headed across Webster County for us. Sitting on the couch, I can see out the living room's double windows to the west and SEE it [the storm] coming. The radar close-ups look to me as though the storm IS lessening overall, although the hotspots are still very pronounced.

11:19 p.m.
Fast approaching. I've cleaned out my closet and put one of the CD/radio thingies in there with a set of headphones and a bunch of batteries. Scott brought the girls down, and they're sleeping in our bed right now.

Rain. Only a bit. And some wind. According to the news guys on channel 10, it should be at Duncan up the road right now. 2 minutes
[away]. Personally, judging by what's going on outside, I don't think it will be too bad here, save for the wind, and that not even too bad, I think. It seems to have moved north and gotten smaller, resulting in it skimming Hwy 38, for the most part...

11:38 p.m.
Scott is lying on the couch trying to sleep. I'll nap on the recliner tonight. There is another line of storms coming through that is currently east of Joplin. They're not as bad, judging from the radar, as this one was, but they're stronger than they were at first, so we're going to leave the girls in our bed for the night, just in case...although... I COULD go upstairs and sleep in THEIR bed.

11:45 p.m.
[first] storm that went over us is passing 'Grove [Grovespring], where it apparently picked up strength if not size of area covered.

[on the news] of the hail that fell in Springfield just now. 45 minutes ago, and the thing is pretty much softball or grapefruit size. I need to turn out the light and nap. (We're leaving the TV on, albeit w/ the sound turned off. This is why I can tell you that there are great big trees down across National Avenue [in Springfield].

Sleep, Cindy. Go to sleep. While you can, Lady.

Monday, March 13, 2006
6:18 a.m.
[The girls' school] is closed due to storm damage.

What happened between telling myself to go to sleep and the school closing report is that Great Scott beat me to the girls' bed, and I woke up, as I've said, with the second line of storms directly over the county line. Directly over us. I wouldn't have had time to wake Scott up and get the girls into the closet before the tornado would have been on us, if it had come through our field. As it was, it or something very like a tornado destroyed a home of some people we know just a few miles away and damaged some other friends' houses. Six homes were destroyed near Competition and Grovespring--little communities to the near northeast whose children attend school with ours. And in Marshfield, the town just to the west, 40 homes were destroyed in a subdivision.

...And I'd intended to blog about office supply stores today.

1. Jennifer blogs about tornado weather in Columbia, Missouri this weekend here and here.
2. My mother reports that one of their customers lost their house as well.
3. The Amish community near us (see "Duncan" and "2 minutes away" above) is rumored to have been hit badly.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Procrastination Aids: Which Work of Classic Literature Are You?

Unabashedly filtched from Michael at Stick Poet Superhero.

Lord of the rings
J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are
entertaining and imaginative, creating whole
new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you
have a whole league of imitators, none of
which is quite as profound as you are.
Stories and songs give a spark of joy in the
middle of your eternal battle with the forces
of evil.

Which literature classic are you?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Procrastination Aids: Muppets. Lovely

Below you will find my first and second results. No inner conflicts going on here, nosirree.

You Are Animal
A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.But you sure can beat a good drum."Kill! Kill!"

You Are Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
You take the title "mad scientist" to the extreme -with very scary things coming out of your lab.And you've invented some pretty cool things, from a banana sharpener to a robot politician.But while you're busy turning gold into cottage cheese, you need to watch out for poor little Beaker!"Oh, that's very naughty, Beaker! Now you eat these paper clips this minute."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday Quote: On Life and Lemons

"When Life hands you lemons, smile politely and throw them away when Life isn't looking."


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thirteen Dreams of Doings

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things Lucinda Dreams of Doing

1. Owning and living in a house with huge windows and floor to ceiling every room.

2. Or a hobbit hole similarly outfitted.

3. In the middle of nowhere.

4. Publishing a book of poetry with which I'm satisfied.

5. Throwing things away without feeling guilty or wasteful.

6. Fitting in size 10 clothes again.

7. Traveling in or living in Scotland.

8. And the rest of Great Britian.

9. Understanding the trees' language.

10. Spilling joy into our daughters' lives.

11. Having Great Scott! look back on our marriage after 60 years and say, "It was worth it."

12. Being a vehicle for light.

13. Living each day in stillness, regardless of circumstances.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Meg at Lost and Found

2. Dawn at odds 'n ends

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

A note: The idea for this particular Thurday Thirteen was happily and unabashedly snitched from Meg (see #1 above).


The Christmas tree is down!!!!!