John Prine, rest in power

It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.

In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.

Civic Center Park, Denver. October 28, 2002.

That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.

While digesting Reader’s Digest in the back of a dirty book store
A plastic flag, with gum on the back fell out on the floor
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside, slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see old Betsy Ross I’d tell her how good I feel
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I went to the bank this morning and the cashier he said to me
“If you join the Christmas club we’ll give you ten of them flags for free”
Well, I didn’t mess around a bit, I took him up on what he said
And I stuck them stickers all over my car and one on my wife’s forehead
But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
They’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war
Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
Well, I got my window shield so filled with flags I couldn’t see
So, I ran the car upside a curb and right into a tree
By the time they got a doctor down I was already dead
And I’ll never understand why the man standing in the pearly gates said
“But your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore
We’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war”
“Now Jesus don’t like killin’, no matter what the reason’s for
And your flag decal won’t get you into Heaven anymore” 

Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.

Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.

John Prine, rest in power.

Hallelujah! The times are a-changin’

Feb 5, 2020. Marcel sees into the future.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.
~ Bob Dylan

 

And we don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (Don’t let Marcel’s expression fool you–it’s a good direction. 🙂 )

It was 20 years ago today

Today is Wildebeest’s birthday (which he shares with his cousin…Happy Birthday again, James!) I haven’t yet talked with Wildebeest today because he’s out doing fun stuff with his camera and friends. But here he was 20 years ago,  making a wish before blowing out the candles.

Wildebeest. November 4, 1999

I don’t know whether that particular wish came true, but I do know that today my son is happy and healthy, which means my wish came true.

Happy happy birthday, Wildebeest!

Fungal in the picture book jungle

I’m trying to add layers of text to my nonfiction picture book and am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the gap between my vision for this project and the reality of what it looks like thus far. In my mind, this project is pure AWESOME. However, the manuscript currently feels more like a collection of fits and starts.

So I’m posting this magic mushroom as a reminder of how intricate details come together to create a whole. One gorgeous layer at a time.

Looking at you, Monday

Limpkin. Kapok Park, May 6, 2019.

Monday, Monday.
Can’t trust that day.

However, it does feel good knowing what day of the week it is, even if it’s the dreaded Monday, after being disoriented for much of last week when every day felt like a weekend day.

It’s good to know where I stand. Hello, Monday. Let’s do this.

Rain, I don’t mind

It’s been raining here, off and on, since yesterday afternoon. Part of me has had enough of this dreary, wet weather. But another part of me loves all the lush green, so I’m trying to adopt the Beatles’ attitude: Rain, I don’t mind. Shine, the weather’s fine.

Emma and I haven’t gone out today, though. She doesn’t like water in her ears and I’m not in the mood for the cold damp. Instead, we’re enjoying the cozy indoors.

Rain, we don’t mind. As long as we’re warm and dry.

Monday, Monday can’t trust that day

I started my day at one of my favorite places on the planet, Kapok Park. I wandered around with my camera and came upon this sign that reminded me of Zebu. I’d taken a photo of him next to that same sign when he and I visited the park a year ago.

So when I saw the sign today, I missed my son and decided to take a quick pic to send in a text. I stepped closer to the sign and focused on framing the shot. Suddenly I felt a burning, stinging sensation in my left ankle. I looked down and noticed ants crawling on me. Lots of angry, biting ants.

I’d somehow neglected to see their enormous anthill-home and stepped in it with my big shoe.

The good news is I had a lovely visit to Kapok Park where I managed to avoid molesting the alligators. The bad news is I caused considerable distress to an ant colony.

Happy Monday!

King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

While I’m finishing up my work-for-hire project (hooray!!!), Zippy is out on the patio harvesting our worm compost.  Each time I fed them over the past couple months I’d remark “I need to harvest this stuff. The bin’s getting full.” Well, I never got around to that harvest.

Today’s the day! Zippy wants/needs compost for the seeds he’s about to plant in his vegetable garden so he’s out there utilizing the pile method. Worms are light-sensitive so migrate down in the piles which makes it easier to separate them from the compost.

But it’s still a labor-intensive process and I’m grateful Zippy has tackled the project. However, I’m feeling a bit left out. Solution? As I work on my manuscript I take breaks to go down and say hello to my worm friends. Here’s a mess o’ worms that were hanging out inside an avocado peel:

And here’s an adult and a younger worm that patiently allowed me to hold them for a moment before I headed back to my writing project:

 

 

All hail King Harvest!

 

 

Blue Jay Way

I’m at the Tampa airport, headed back to Colorado. Yesterday I went to Kapok Park in late afternoon and took so many photos my camera card reached capacity and wouldn’t let me take anymore. That’s what you call satiation!

Here’s a dapper jay I enountered:

It was a typically wonderful time at Kapok Park and I’m looking forward to going through the many photos I took to see what other gems await me.

Every grain of sand

I’m packing for a visit with my mother in Florida and as I placed my sandals in the suitcase, I noticed something. The soles are stilly sandy from my January trip.

I started to brush off the sand and then stopped. Those granules belong in Florida, not Colorado. They have a job to do. Sand castles, for example.

Good news, grains of sand. You’ll be home again soon.

Twofer Tuesday: Green New Deal edition

I’m getting ready to head out to one of my senator’s offices to urge his support for a Green New Deal. I had a conversation with one of his D.C. staffers yesterday when I called (again) to ask that he co-sponsor the Green New Deal. I was told Senator Bennet doesn’t support it because he wants legislation that’s bi-partisan so that whatever is passed won’t be subject to political winds depending on who is in power.

Classic establishment Dem thinking. Water down the policy in hopes the soulless ghouls across the aisle will approve. This senator also thinks he might run for president. *insert hysterical laughter* If Senator Bennet thinks he’ll get anywhere without the support of the young people out there fighting for their futures, he’s incredibly out of touch. Which is what I told that staffer.

Here are my signs for this afternoon’s meeting:

I don’t have high hopes for Senator Bennet who voted to approve the Keystone Pipeline and said at the time he thought Keystone should be part of a bigger solution to climate change. (?!) BUT, I can’t not make the effort when so much is at stake.

Please, even if you’ve already done so, put in calls today to your two senators and one representative to ask them to co-sponsor the resolution for a Green New Deal. We’ve gotta go bold before it’s too late.

Doe a deer a female deer

I woke this morning to snow that fell for hours before abruptly stopping when the sun came out. Zippy was out shoveling and came in to let me know we had a visitor in the yard. By the time I got to the window, the doe was strolling up the street past the spot where a huge pickup had slid sideways earlier in the day. (You can see the exposed groundcover where the truck went up over the sidewalk).

Hooves are superior to Michelins.

No implements of destruction

Yesterday I got zero writing done on my work-in-progress. I was enraged and exhausted by news and events. Late last night I fell asleep wondering whether, in the face of relentless misogyny and violence against women, my idea for a middle-grade novel narrated by a boy was what I should pursue. Maybe, I thought, I should abandon that story and instead write a burn-it-all-down book filled with pitchfork-wielding girls.

Well, I’ve spent the last several hours analyzing and fleshing out the beginning outline for my boy-based work-in-progress and have decided it’s a GO. Not only am I moving ahead with this story, I’m kinda excited about the plot lines. My main character won’t be fighting the power structure, but he is a decent human being.

In today’s climate that’s worth a lot.

Every picture tells a story

This could’ve been a truly awesome photo. Imagine a large white cat stretched out on the backside of the hanging shirts, staring through the multi-colored plastic hangers with yellow-green eyes. Imagine a self-satisfied expression on that white cat’s face as you struggled to understand how he got there. Imagine being frozen in place as he stared you down.

By the time I snapped out of my Marcel-induced reverie and returned with my camera, this was all I got. In fact, this subpar photo was staged. Marcel had already extricated himself from the hangers and jumped down before I could get a shot so Zippy picked him up and put him back on the dresser. (Confession: I was hoping he’d jam Marcel back through the hangers, but apparently my mate and I have different cat-wrangling sensibilities.)

Loki, true to form, remained chill throughout the activities.

Oh baby baby it’s a wild world

Marcel is the four-legged member of the family voted Most Likely to Open a Closet, Drawer, or Food Canister. Which is why it was particularly dumb for me to leave only a sliding screen door between him and the great outdoors before I left today for a lunch date. To make matters worse, it wasn’t until a couple hours after my return that I noticed the screen door open about six inches.

Zippy and I began dashing about in a panic, calling Marcel’s name. Zippy checked under furniture and in closets as I ran around the front and back yards looking under bushes. I ran across the street (which hosts a fair amount of traffic) to ask the neighbors if they’d seen him. They hadn’t, but promised they’d let me know if they did. I started to wonder how I’d ever break it to Zebu that Marcel was gone.

I was making another round of the back yard when I heard something. I stopped and listened. I heard it again and followed the sound. There was Marcel, curled up in a corner of the neighbor’s yard, crying and frozen in fear. Zippy climbed over the fence and brought him home.

The good news is that Marcel’s already gotten over the trauma from his big adventure. Just a few moments ago, he was messing with the latch on the food canister.

Update: And right after I posted this, he opened the closet in my writing room and climbed into a box filled with bubble wrap.

Chainsaw massacre

Yesterday I (finally) came to the realization that a couple two or three much-loved scenes in my manuscript serve no real purpose. Try as I might, I couldn’t justify them. And after attempting to salvage little bits here and there, I (finally) came to another realization: pruning shears weren’t the tool for the job.

 

 

 

The first cut is the deepest, baby, I know.

My aim is true

Today as I work on my novel, I am thinking ahead, hoping ahead, to the day when a reader reaches for my story. Last May, I photographed this man perusing a “Book Exchange” in Stockholm and am posting it as a motivator. I aim to create the most compelling, reader-enticing story I can write, dammit.