Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
So Anonymous, thank you for checking in occasionally. The time will come when I feel I have something to say and I'll enjoy articulating it here. I hope I don't keep you waiting too long, and that you don't find my musings too self-absorbed. I'll try to keep my eye on that fine line....
Until then, warm hugs, whoever you are ~
(The above photo comes from logotreedesigns.blogspot.com/)
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
There were 2 shows in town tonight. Jane Goodall at The Centre and Madonna at GM Place. You could not find two women who are more disparate in what they represent.
I went to see Jane Goodall. It was a most inspirational night.
The moment Dr. Goodall walked onto the stage the entire audience stood and gave her a standing ovation. She hadn’t said a word. Goosebumps ran down my spine. I imagine Madonna also received a standing ovation upon her entrance. Hmmm.
When Jane began to speak the entire audience leaned forward, captivated by her stories of living among the chimpanzees in Gombe. In her soft British accent she spoke of the destruction of the habitat in Africa, as well as around the world. She said, “We have lost our wisdom… there has been a disconnect between the head and the heart.”
A disconnect. How profoundly true.
Perhaps there has been a disconnect in the values of society. When a glitzy yet ultimately shallow ‘superstar’ like Madonna draws a much larger crowd (and hence, personal riches) than an inspirational speaker whose work and love for the planet and the creatures on it are tireless, and the money she earns goes back to the planet and creatures on it … well, yes, we have lost our wisdom. There has been a disconnect.
Jane’s presentation was serious but not gloomy. She feels that when humans have their back up against the wall, as we do right now where the health of Mother Earth is concerned, we will be forced to think creatively, and we will find the means to implement those creative solutions needed to restore the planet. She says the environment is ultimately forgiving, and although it will never be the pristine planet it once was, it can be restored to a healthy place. She feels that each and every one of us can make a difference by making informed choices…ie. the food that we purchase… could we have made a better choice for the environment? She believes that if each of us continues to make more and more choices in the planet’s favour, we will turn things around. All the small things add up to make a big difference.
As she spoke I wondered what was happening at the Madonna concert. I thought about how Madonna represents nothing of value to me and how Jane Goodall represents so much. I thought about the media attention that Madonna received compared to what Jane’s visit received. Yet what will each of these women ultimately contribute to the future of mankind?
Disconnect. I couldn’t have said it better.
Since then I've discovered that many memorial services start the same way and now I better understand the spirit of a memorial. Often the people gathered are asked to share memories or stories of our deceased friend/relative. As I listen to the reflections, I often wish that the person who has passed away could hear these stories. I feel that somehow we are sharing them too late.
Once, when I was going through a difficult time with one of my own daughters, I told a friend that I was going to give up lecturing, and that I was simply going to live the best life that I could, and hope that my children would learn through example. I've discovered that that's a tough pedestal to balance on. Now I think it's more important to let our children know, clearly, what we value in life. When we're gone, they won't be able to ask us. As well, I'm going to engage them in sharing family stories, swapping memories of things we've experienced together, and possibly what we learned from those occassions. I've discovered that often our memories of the same occassion can be quite different. What I take away from an event is often very different from what they take away from it. Discovering what the other remembers can be very revealing.
I am setting myself the task of telling all the wonderful people in my life that I love them and why they are special to me. They might as well know now. It may take awhile to get to them all, but better late than never. I'd rather celebrate life and the people in mine while they are living.
The picture is of my mother and my daughters who are all very much alive!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Going on a retreat is one of those things that I've both yearned to do and feared simultaneously. I know that by their very nature - no matter what kind of retreat it is - you'll come back changed. Like typical holidays, retreats offer escape from your daily routine, but unlike most holidays, there is a focus, and time, lots of time, to really delve into your relationship with that focus, usually with like-minded people. Retreats are journeys of self-discovery.
I have faced many personal challenges in the past year, so in that spirit I decided to take the plunge and face those fears of self-discovery. In the last week of August I travelled by road and on 3 ferries for a total of 8 hours to participate in a writing retreat. I knew to expect wonderful organic vegetarian food, most of which was grown right on the the property. I knew yoga and meditation was offered daily. But it was the unknown factors that I feared and which I shared with my travel companion on our journey there.
"I'm afraid the workshop leader will assign those basic writing exercises that I was doing years ago in creative writing classes," I fretted. "Like... choose a character and write everything you know about him. What colour are his socks? Is he right or left handed?" I knew that those kinds of exercises would have little value for me at this point in my writing career. I also worried that we'd all have to sit in the same room and write for long periods of time. For some reason I thought that all that confinement would stifle me.
On the night of our arrival our group met and the leader outlined what we'd be doing for the next 5 days. There would be writing exercises and writing - altogether- in the same room, she told us. My heart sank. I may have packed up and gone home except that I didn't want to abandon my friend who was in a different workshop.
So.... with reluctance, I attended the first morning of the writing retreat. At least the location was magnificently spiritual, I thought. We met in a tee-pee shaped wooden building with stunning floor to ceiling windows and skylights at the top. This unique structure (a yurt?) was tucked in the forest, far off the beaten track.
And then the instructor assigned the 1st writing exercise. My previous fears were instantly assuaged, but I now had to confront some new ones. We were asked to share, in writing, the most dramatic moments of our lives. I almost chickened out, choosing instead to write about something less significant, but at the last moment I decided to go for it. After writing for 10 minutes we shared our stories. The next two writing exercises were just as revealing. By the end of the morning I'd shared the lowest and highest moments of my life with 8 complete strangers. And I'd heard their stories. We'd each opened our hearts and placed our trust in the group. The leader had the amazing skills necessary to keep this from becoming a therapy session, and helped us take those emotions we'd unearthed and use them in our writing.
Wow. From then on the workshop galloped ahead. We'd learned that the most powerful writing comes when you dig deep. And writing, all at the same time in that sacred-feeling building felt wonderful.
So yes, it was scary. But it was also one of the most enriching weeks of my life.
Will the next retreat be any less scary? No. It will be all new people, a different focus, a different setting. Will I take the next retreat opportunity that comes my way?
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This is the 8th time I've been through this process. You'd think it would get easier with each book. It doesn't. Looking back at the issues in my books I have to wonder at myself. I've written about teen pregnancy, peer pressure, the dangers of the internet, self-inflicted injuries, dysfunctional families, abduction, adoption, abuse, divorce, cancer, ... I could go on. In fact I've probably tackled an issue for every letter of the alphabet. Why do I choose these topics? I have no answer, except that I always know that by writing these stories I will find myself pondering ideas in ways that I never would have if I hadn't tackled the subject matter.
Writing this book, as always, was a journey of discovery. I don't like to tell new writers this, but I was 3/4's of the way through the first draft, maybe more, before I knew how it was going to end. Actually, I knew exactly how it had to end, I just didn't know how to get my protagonist there.
I remember the exact moment it came to me. I was on a retreat with my writing group. We'd been brainstorming ideas. None of them felt right. Then we took a break from brainstorming to actually write.
That's when it came to me, fully formed. The protagonist could only reach that final destination one way. It was so obvious, but I hadn't seen it until I was almost there. She couldn't make the final leap for herself, but she could do it for someone else. It's a lesson I've learned in my own life, and I was able to apply that lesson to my character. It was a most satisfying writing experience.
That's all I can say without ruining the ending for prospective readers.
I think that I've treated the subject of polygamy fairly. By using three voices I've tried to show the various perspectives of a controversial religious principle. Nothing is ever black and white. I hope I've shown the grey.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Two of my three children have grown beautiful butterfly wings and have fluttered off in recent days and months. I am extremely proud of them both. I am also excited for them both. Their futures are bright and shiny. What more could a parent wish for a child?
And yet... change is hard for the ones left behind. My girls' chairs are noticeably empty at the dinner table. The chatter and banter of 3 young people living under one roof has disappeared. Brian Kiely, in a long-ago Unitarian sermon on "Centering" said, "... change may be exciting, but it may not always be entirely welcome, even when the change is for the better..... In spiritual terms, this yearning for the familiar translates into a desire for centeredness. It has many names: balance, groundedness, a sense of place, a sense of self, a sense of purpose, an ability to cope. What these terms all try to describe in their inadequate and merely human language is a feeling of well being, that all is right with the world, that we will, with no question at all, come through the latest challenge alright. Change may be exciting, but I believe that in the face of an uncertain world, most of us long for certainty. In the raging of the whirlwind we wish for the calm of the storm's center."
Daughter #3 and I have brainstormed ideas to adapt to these changes. There is now even more room at our table for interesting guests. Eating at restaurants is more affordable with just the two of us. Being vegetarians, we no longer need to cook meat for the others and can put more energy into cooking creative vegetarian meals. We've talked about offering up the empty bedrooms to young people who may temporarily be without a home. Perhaps we will find a new home where we can start new routines, new family rituals. The missing family members will always be missed, but we will make the most of our new situation. In fact, we will try to make our new situation one that will be an enriching one for us as well.
Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Okay Leslie, before you pass on reading this post, let me tell you that there is a very important lesson for writers hidden in the words, and you're a writer, whether you refer to yourself as one or not. So please, bear with me.
Once upon a time, in what seems like a previous life, my family was seriously into composting. By the time my children were preschoolers, they knew how to sort all our household recyclables, including compostable items. We took it so seriously that the girls, on their own initiative, brought home their apple cores and orange peels from kindergarten to put in the compost bin. They got as excited as I did about watching our kitchen scraps turn (magically) into beautiful soil. (Quit rolling your eyes, Leslie.)
But then we moved to a new community, one where bears, skunks, raccoons and yes, rats and mice frequented our backyard and I felt it was no longer wise to engage in backyard composting.
So, I brought home a compost bin made out of recycled plastic. Trouble is, it needed assembling and there were about 200 pieces. I asked my youngest daughter ~ the straight 'A' student ~ to build it for me as I have never been good at that sort of thing. She was indignant and asked why it was that her father and I always treat her like a boy, giving her the boy-type jobs. Clearly I've failed in my effort to raise a non-sexist daughter, but I swallowed and suggested we build it together. She agreed, reluctantly.
It was even harder than I imagined, but eventually we'd snapped all the plastic pieces together. All that was left to attach was the sliding door, but when we went to slide it into place we discovered that one of the very first pieces we'd assembled had been put in backwards, preventing the door from sliding shut. The entire thing had to be taken apart in order to correct the problem.
Well, disassembling the unit was even harder than assembling it, and very quickly my daughter bailed. I was left standing in the garden, gnashing my teeth, trying to pry apart the pieces, but they held fast. Daughter #1 made a surprise visit and found me there, cursing loudly as I tried to snap it apart. Building the composter had turned me into a monster. "Why can't anything be simple?" I wailed.
She advised me to take some deep breaths, and together, with a lot of effort, we disassembled and reassembled it. The composter was ready to start doing it's work.
Now to start retraining my daughters. Yesterday I found a banana skin in the garbage. THE GARBAGE! That delinquent daughter won't soon forget that we are now putting our compostables into a separate bucket.
Okay, Leslie, now that you've finished gagging, I'll tell you where the lesson for writers comes in. I'd like you to think of your brain as a compost bin. Hang on. It's not so bad. You see, just as our kitchen and yard scraps get thrown together on the heap, eventually turning into a beautiful rich garden material , so do all the random thoughts and ideas that we put into our brains turn into rich story material. One little idea alone does not turn into a beautiful, multi-layered story but the combination of ideas that we've been collecting for years do compost and turn into something new and fresh. When you begin to write your story, you don't need to worry about where the original ideas will come from because they've been composting in your brain for years, ready and waiting to nourish a new story.
So Leslie... pick up that pen and start writing.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In my effort to become better acquainted with many of the classic movies that I missed or simply don't remember I recently watched Guess Who's Coming To Dinner starring Sidney Portier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In it, Spencer Tracy plays an upper-class liberal publisher who has raised his daughter to be 'colour-blind'. This comes back to haunt him when she falls desperately in love with a black man (Sydney Poitier) in a time when interracial marriage is still taboo. We watch as Spencer Tracy's character struggles to align his heart with what he preaches and what is happening in his own home.
It was, of course, a fabulous film and I identified with each of the characters: the smitten young woman, the mother who wants her daughter to be happy, but most of all, the parent whose child reminds us that we need to practise what we preach.
For me, recently, the lesson I preached that has come back to haunt me is how we treat homeless people. I taught my daughters that these are not people to be scorned, despised or feared. We have no idea of the circumstances that brought them to this place, and it could just as easily be us. They deserve our compassion and we need to be part of the effort to help them lead productive lives.
That said, a few years ago, my daughter, Cara, began taking dance classes at a studio downtown. She is often there until late at night, and I worried for her safety as she returned to her car which was parked in a dark lot in a back alley. On one of her first nights there she was struggling with the pay-parking meter. A homeless man approached her and showed her how it worked. She thanked him, and he promised to watch her car for her while she was dancing. Sure enough, when she returned to her car hours later, he was still there, keeping watch. She thanked him, a little unnerved, not sure what he was expecting in return, got into her car, and drove away.
The next night, the same man was there, and once again he offered to keep watch over her car. He introduced himself as Johnny. This went on week after week, and Cara learned she had nothing to fear from Johnny. He'd simply adopted this car lot as his own terrain, and he protected the cars parked there from car thieves. Cara began giving him loonies, and bringing him snacks. He was grateful for any little thing she gave him, but never actually asked for compensation. One time she gifted him with an umbrella as so many nights he patrolled the lot in the pouring rain. He was overjoyed with the gift. In the two years Cara has parked in that lot, 4-5 times a week, nothing has ever happened to her car. On the other hand, parked in safer neighbourhoods, like on our own street, at the local Superstore, and outside Cactus Club where she works, her car has been vandalized, trashed and backed into. Johnny really is doing a wonderful service for her.
At first I was skeptical of Johnny and worried that he might harm Cara but I grew to be grateful to him, even though we've never met. In this way I learned to practise what I preached
Last night Cara and her sister Dani were working at a charity event. At the end of the evening there was all kinds of food left over. They are both used to seeing food wasted as they each work in the restaurant business, but this time they decided to do something about it. They wrapped up a bunch of sandwiches and desserts and drove downtown to Johnny's parking lot. At first they couldn't find him so they distributed the food to other homeless people, but eventually Johnny showed up and to show his appreciation, he danced a dance of joy at their gift of food, knowing full well that dancing is Cara's passion. I was so proud of my daughters and their thoughtfulness. On the one hand I'd rather they stayed away from dark alleys and the people who lurk there, and yet I'm glad that they show compassion and generosity when it's safe to do so.
Cara may be leaving home soon to work as a dancer on a cruise ship. She will meet many many kinds of people on her travels. Not all of them will be the gentle souls that Johnny turned out to be, but I will pray that her heart remains open and compassionate while her brain remains alert to possible danger and trickery.
In rereading this post, I realize that Johnny, though homeless, is leading a productive life. Another lesson learned.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I was really bugged by this. First of all, I can't understand why anyone would put bottles and cans that can be returned for a deposit into the blue box in the first place. Granted, I have the space, but I always save these things for those kids who are doing bottle-drives and who come around to collect them. And besides, I think the 'rummagers' are industrious, hard-working people. They must really need the money so why would those who are recycling their returnables be bothered by this?
Lately I've noticed there are fewer and fewer bottle-drives being organized (in my neighbourhood anyway) so I tend to acquire a lot of 'returnables'. I've begun taking beer cans and wine bottles back to the liquor store when I am going there anyway and I give the deposit money to whatever charity is outide looking for donations. It's a win-win situations. I am, however, too lazy to haul back the juice/soft drink containers which collect as fast as the dust bunnies in this house yet I still won't put them in the blue box or, even worse, the garbage. Someone wants/needs the money that they can get by returning them. I decided to try a small experiment. A few months ago, on recycling day, I put a small, clear plastic bag with cans and bottles beside my blue box in hopes that one of the 'rummagers' would pass by and collect them before the recycling truck did. I hoped that because they weren't in the blue box, the truck wouldn't take them if they were still there.
It worked. At some point before the recycling truck arrived, I noted that the bag had disappeared.
For quite a few weeks now I've left a bag of returnable items next to my blue box. Each week they've disappeared before the truck arrives. Last week I got confused and put my garbage/recyclables out on the wrong day. The bag of returnables STILL disappeared! Hmmm. I began wondering if it was one of my neighbours that was taking them, but that would surprise me. Tonight I took the blue box out accompanied by a very large bag of returnables. I went back into the house to collect up the newspapers and by the time I made it back to the curb, the bag of returnables was already gone! 99% of me finds huge joy in this. The system is working. Those people who need the returnables are actually finding them before the recycling truck hauls them away. But tonight, 1% of me feels a little creeped out. Who is watching my curb so closely??
Friday, May 9, 2008
I've never been a good shopper. Oh, I've tried. As the mother of 3 daughters who all LOVE to shop, I've wanted to get into the spirit. I really have. But 5 or 10 minutes into the shopping adventure it always becomes an ordeal and I remember what I hate about the whole thing. Too many choices. Pushy salespeople. Loud, obnoxious music. Nothing that fits. Rampant commercialism. Ahhhh! Get me outta here a voice screams in my head.
In November I went to New York with The Book Club With The Shopping Problem. (TBCWTSP) I had The Most Wonderful Time but I was not converted. Fortunately there are a few other things to do in New York, people watching being my favourite.
Last week TBCWTSP were invited to spend the weekend in Birch Bay at the beautiful home of LT. When I accepted the invitation I had visions of long hours spent wandering the beach, cozy afternoons in front of the fire discussing books, evenings filled with games and laughter.
The evenings filled with games and laughter happened but Saturday dawned grey and drizzly. Beachcombing lost its appeal. The ladies of TBCWTSP split into groups, and somehow (I must have been abducted) I ended up in a car heading into Bellingham for a full day of shopping. I think it was a conspiracy. They wanted to turn me into one of them: a shopper.
Looking back on it, I realize their strategy was well thought out. Our first stop was at one of those horrific outlet stores. We walked in and all I could see were thousands of racks of clothes, all jammed together. There so many people and they were all rifling through the mishmash of merchandise. I tried to join in, but it was too much. I finally hid in a back corner (with a lot of lost husbands) until my friends had had their fill. Wanting to show that I was a good sport, I purchased 10 washcloths. I was hoping we could go home.
But oh no. We hadn't even hit Bellis Fair Mall yet. As we pulled up I noticed that the mall appeared to go on for miles and miles. I wondered how much cab fare back to Birch Bay would cost me. I figured I was in for the longest day of my life.
We started at Macy's. CN suggested that we meet in one hour. One hour?? For one store? Heavy sigh. I stepped into the store, and immediately my mood improved. The racks were spaced far apart. The store was mostly empty. There were no line-ups for the changerooms. The music was soft and sweet. The salepeople were present but not pushy. Each item of clothing came in a full range of sizes, and they were neatly organized from smallest to largest. I felt like I'd somehow ricocheted out of hell and landed in heaven!
I took stacks of clothes into the changeroom. One hour was not nearly enough! I needed a second hour! Before the afternoon was over I'd bought clothes at Macy's, kitchen dishes at Target and a lot of odds and sods in-between. And I was just getting started! This was fun! We agreed to come back to the mall and carry on the next day. I was ecstatic
After some tearful farewells in the morning, (we knew how blessed we were with such wonderful friendships and hated to go our separate ways) the 4 of us headed back to the mall, but the euphoria was gone. After 5-10 minutes I wanted to get the hell out. What had happened to me just the day before?? The only explanation I had was that the transition from the outlet store to Macy's was such a relief that I actually thought I was having a good time!!
Nonetheless, I love the ladies of TBCWTSP. All of them. Not everyone can make it on the trips but everyone is equally beloved in the group. And I'm grateful to the ladies who turned me into a shopper for one day. Man, was that fun! It may never happen again, but for 8 hours or so, I got it.
Love you all ~
postscript: the reason LT appears to be tottering on the edge and about to fall over in the picture is not because she's had too many Margarita's. The truth is, she set the camera on a timer and then had to jog across the yard on her new hip to get in the picture. Hurray for LT!!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
We did a breathing exercise in yoga today and the teacher suggested we imagine the deep inhale as breathing in new life, and the exhale as a cleansing, or a shedding of the old skin, as a snake does. In shedding the old skin we are reborn.
I hung on to this image all day. I've never before identified with snakes, (primates being my current obsession) but I like the image of shedding the old skin, of becoming new and fresh again. Snakes do it to allow for growth. I feel poised on the threshold of shedding my old skin, my old self, allowing for personal growth.
I did a little research and discovered that humans actually shed 1.5 million skin cells every hour with a new skin surface regenerating every 28 days (kinda gross when you think about all those skin cells floating around... sort of like the millions of dust mites that live on our mattress... okay, don't get me started.) So, we are shedding too, but this image of flaking skin isn't nearly as powerful as that of that snake, who loses the skin in one entire piece.
Apparently the stresses associated with shedding can be substantial. Sick snakes experience delayed and incomplete sheds. Also, shedding is a slow process, and I imagine there must be some discomfort. So it is with humans embarking on a rebirth. First we have to shed the old skin. Unhealthy humans, people who are emotionally, spiritually or physically ill will struggle more with the shedding. The changing of old routines, adjusting to losses, these are uncomfortable, but by maintaining our health and embracing new opportunities we can aid the shedding process that leads to our own rebirth.
Maybe I can identify with the snake afterall.
Monday, April 7, 2008
"Together the chimpanzees and the baboons and monkeys, the birds and insects, the teeming life of the vibrant forest, the stirrings of the never still waters of the great lake, and the uncountable stars and planets of the solar system formed one whole. All one, all part of the great mystery."
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Cinta, a young orangutan and Little Lucu, a siamang ape, have stolen my heart, lock, stock and barrel. My daughters had to drag me away from their exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. They were behaving - yes - just like little monkeys! Or small children. I was captivated by their antics - the teasing, the tackling, the swinging, the swaggering. Watching these magnificent young apes was like sitting on a bench at a playground, watching preschoolers romp. They were absolutely delightful, and seeing the patience and affection that the older apes had for the younger ones - well - it was simply stunning. Human parents could learn from them. One of my daughters, standing beside me at the glass wall that was all that separated us from the animals, commented... "I don't understand why some people don't believe in evolution."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
I consider myself a good dog owner. I always scoop poop. I buy a dog license each year. I exercise my dog daily to keep him healthy and happy.
I also consider myself to be a good law-abiding citizen. My friends and family will vouch for me when I say that I am a lousy liar and that I always follow rules, sometimes to the extreme.
However, there is one bylaw I do occassionally break, and as a result there are some who would consider me to be an irresponsible dog-owner.
You see, I sometimes allow my dog to run off-leash.
(There, I've said it. What a relief.)
In the six years I've been breaking this bylaw I had yet to meet up with the dreaded 'dog police'. All that good luck came to an end last week.
It was one of those remarkably crisp, clear, early spring days. Winston and I headed down to the beach to stretch our legs and enjoy the break in the weather. We were wandering down the beach when we ran into another springer spaniel and her owner, who was an acquaintance from the neighbourhood.
The other dog-owner and I quickly engaged in conversation about the joys of owning springer spaniels. So engrossed were we in conversation that we didn't notice the dog police until after our dogs had run up and greeted them. Off-leash, of course.
I sighed deeply and reached out my hand to accept my ticket. I knew that we weren't allowed on the beach and that being off-leash was a no-no. I figured that I'd been lucky for 6 years, and that if I amortized all our leash-less walks over that time - well, it really only cost me pennies per walk.
My dog-walking friend, however, had a different take on the situation. He immediately started talking. "I'm so glad we ran into you," he said.
I tried not to look as startled as I felt. I waited to see where he was going with this.
"You see," he continued. "I've often wondered what the rules were for walking dogs on the beach."
I kept my eyes glued to the ground. Hadn't he noticed the signs all over the park telling us that dogs weren't allowed on the beach?
One of the dog-police patiently began to recite the law to him, while the other began filling out our tickets.
"Ohhh," my friend said, after having the law explained to him. "Thank you so much for letting me know! You guys are doing the community such a service. There are so many irresponsible dog-owners out here. I don't know what this park would look like if it weren't for you keeping all us dog-owners in line."
At this point I noticed the puzzled glance that the two dog-police exchanged. Then one reached over and checked the tag on Winston's collar. "2006," he noted.
"I have a 2008 tag, honestly," I told him, sheepishly. And I do. "But it's still sitting on my desk. Right beside the 2007 one."
The dog-police person turned to my friend with raised eyebrows. "And you?" he asked, his nod noting Ruby's lack of any tag."Oh dear," my friend says, shoulders sagging. "You see, we have four collars for Ruby. Every time she gets wet we change her collar. But we only have one dog license. Hey," he says, looking brighter, "do you think I could order extra dog licenses next year?"
"No," Dog Police #1 says. "May I suggest you keep Ruby's license with your car keys from now on. Then you will always have it with you."
"Great idea!" my friend says.
The dog-police turned to me again. "Please put your dog on leash," one of them says. As I lean over to clip Winston to his leash I wonder what my friend will do. I'd noted that he didn't even have a leash with him, but when I stood back up, I saw that Ruby was now attached to the end of a leather leash.
As I pondered the miraculous appearance of the leash, my friend continued to chat away about how wonderful the dog-police were, and how he appreciated how hard they worked. He might even have mentioned how good-looking they were. Eventually the one with the pad of tickets stuck them in his back pocket. "We're going to let you off with just a warning today," he said. "But please remember not to allow your dogs to run free on the beach again. And get those dog licenses on them."
"Thank you so much," my friend says, shaking their hands effusively. As we walk away, he says, quietly, "My pants are about to fall down."
It's then that I notice that Ruby's leash is not really a leash at all. It's her owner's belt. I hadn't even noticed my friend slide it off, and clearly the dog-police hadn't either. Between bellows of laughter I asked whether Ruby really had 4 collars. "Are you kidding?" he said. "Ruby's never even been licensed."
"You just have to kill 'em with kindness," he explained. It works every time."
Postscript ~ the moral of this story is not that lying and breaking laws is recommended but in this incident, everyone got what they wanted. My dog now proudly wears his 2008 license. I will no longer be walking him on the beach, on or off-leash. But it could have ended a lot uglier, with harsh words and expensive fines. The kind words made all the difference.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The above photos were taken by my daughter, Cara. (Isn't she clever? The black background in the 2nd picture is simply a black t-shirt. Brilliant.) The top one is of a hemp bead bracelet that my publisher is distributing with review copies of my new book, Gotcha!. The bottom one is of the actual book. As I've said before in this blog, I am so pleased with this cover art. Orca Books could not have done a better job of packaging my story. Now I just have to worry about whether the story is worthy of the packaging.
An artist, a musician and a writer were relaxing over cups of coffee after their yoga class. They were discussing 'completed projects'.
The artist said, "When I look at my completed paintings, I always want to reach for a paintbrush and rework parts of the painting."
The writer said, "As I do readings from my books, I realize how stupid the story is, and how badly written!"
The musician said, "When I put out a CD, I have to perfom the songs on it over and over again. With each performance I can only hear all the mistakes and wish I could redo the original tracks."
Okay, I'm paraphrasing. But the conversation did go something like that.
I guess it's human nature. I have never hosted a dinner party where, after the guests have all gone home, I didn't dwell on the meal's shortcoming rather than on what was good about it. In my garden I can only see where something is lacking, rather than what looks fabulous. Even in my author presentations, when all is said and done, it's what I forgot to include in the presentation that haunts me, not what went well.
The exception to this rule is with my daughters. When I look at them I can only see their strengths. They are each so close to perfection that sometimes it takes my breath away. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, their messy bedrooms drive me CRAZY, the 'borrowing' of each others things borders on 'theft' but these things are minor in the big picture. They really are amazing young women.
I'm not even sure why I'm comparing the two. Maybe because it's Valentine's Day and public expressions of love are in order. I hope my girls each know how much they are cherished. I also hope that all my artist, musician and writer friends can learn to be satisfied and proud of their creations. I know I'm working on it.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
(photo by Cara)
I've always wished that the spirit of generosity and goodwill that surrounds us at Christmas could somehow be harnessed and spread out over the whole year. I love the following poem.
The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Seeing the cover art for my books is always such a thrill. The book suddenly becomes real. Until now it was just a story, a stack of manuscript pages, but now I can see that it really is going to become a book. And I especially like this cover. It is perfect. I have no input into what goes onto the covers of my book, so it's always a relief when I like them.
This feels like a good omen for 2008.
To all my friends ~ I you wish loving connections, creative inspiration and meaningful work for 2008.