Saturday, August 29, 2009

Talk Thursday: Postcards of Our Life

I started this with one thought in mind and woke up to erase the whole thing and start anew. Thank you Fii, Psam, and Steven your responses to my last post are the reason. That and what my cousin is going through.

People who know what I think, know it’s all about the journey to me. Heck, I blog about my journey enough. As Psam was growing up I suggested she question everything she didn’t understand, that didn’t work for her, that she opposed. Believe it or not I think I got this from my mother.

The practice got Psam kicked out of Sunday School. Why? I believe and she can correct me, she questioned the Sunday School teacher when she said Mormons, Catholics, and Jews have a different God than “we” do. Is that right, Psam? I was livid, called the minister and asked him in my (I’m sure) best non-confrontational voice (yeah, sure) “What happened to our Father In Heaven being a loving and forgiving God?” And he said – I swear – “Where does it say that in the Bible?” There are very few things that make me see red faster than a fucking, flippant, ignorant reply like that. I will not get started on Bible teachings here. Especially paraphrased Bible teachings, but let’s just say, Psam never when back to that church.

Postcard number one – “Question Authority or Don’t feed the locals.”

When I was growing up my grandfather would bring me down to the beach (they lived in Balboa) and I would spend weeks there during the summer or weekends during the winter. It was awesome every morning my grandfather and I would walk from his house up the bay to the bakery and buy doughnut holes, walk out to the end of the pier and talk, eat the holes, and watch the fishermen and their poles. My grandfather rocked.

On the other hand I didn’t fit into my grandmother’s scheme of things. Born to a life of privilege my grandmother gave me the impression life had given her a raw deal. (side note: My grandmother was raised by her grandparents, my great grand grandfather was Robert E.M. Cowie one of the founders of American Railways – he adored and coddled his granddaugher Fee, he made my great uncle Bob’s life hell on earth.) My cousin JeannieBeth was her favorite they spent hours beading together, cuddling, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. I tried the beading on Saturday afternoons, but by Sunday my grandmother had more than enough of my company and made my grandfather’s and my life living hell until I was gone. My grandmother died one April day 17 years ago - I felt bad for my grandfather, for JeannieBeth, and my aunt. I know she’s at peace now.

Postcard number two – “Life isn’t fair, you just have to be fair.”

I’m no charming person myself, I have plenty of skeleton bones in my closet, tucked under my bed, buried in the back yard. I can name most of the ones in the backyard: my beloved Kya, at least one cat Bentley, Psam’s pet bird who danced when ever Wilson Phillips came on, and a bunch of snakes I buried in absolute fear (please don’t tell me they can dig their way out I am happy in this ignorance.) The ones in the closet and under the bed are different stories. They are the things in the past that I have hopefully grown from, but fear others knowing – especially my mom. They are the cruelties I wreaked on others because being mean was “funny at the time.” God, isn’t that pathetic? I would take back those moments in a heartbeat, apologize and use the rest of my life to make them right some how. The thought of those actions brings tears to my eyes and grief to my heart. But their memory and shame also makes me who I am today.

Postcard number three – “Where we’ve been is who we are.”

I have done some terrible things in my life, but I think I have also done some kind things, some wise things, some smart things. One of the wise things was to regret and to learn. Another was to embrace the people in my life and love them eternal.

Postcard number four: “It’s all about the journey”

When I was a kid I was envious of my friends who had great relationships with their cousins, all mine were either much, much older than I or lived very far away. So Judy, my friend from down the street, and I began telling everyone we were cousins, I think I was nine and she was seven. To this day she is still my cousin and while there is 1000 physical miles between us she is still in my heart and daily thoughts. When one of us needs the other is just a phone call away. Her mom, Aunt Mabel, is dying of kidney failure and suffers dementia. Jude is her support and care system, but because she’s not built for the extensive demands of 24 hour care and the ravages of dementia the situation and demands are eating Jude alive. She gets no help from her crack addict brother, but her somewhat estranged sister is coming in three weeks to help. Everyday I count my blessings and my own mother’s mental and physical health.

I give Judy all that I can and while the help I offer comes too late, my house will be her haven when her mother finally passes. I haven’t walked in her shoes, but I’ve done private care, it ate me alive. It ended with me taking my client to the hospital and giving up, I was shunned by the medical community in which I’d once worked. I pray for Jude, her mother and what they are going through together. While it was my sister who was with my dad at his final breathe, I got to spend quality time with him in the months before his death. And I was with him and my mom in the dark hours the night before his passing. By far it wasn’t enough. My heart goes out to Jude.

Postcard number five: “Communicate, Appreciate, and Validate your love and relationships” borrowed from John Edward.

See I’m not the unflawed person I make myself out to be. Ergo, my last postcard:

“Judge not, least ye be judge.”


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Talk Thursday: The Journey

Have you ever stopped and just thought about all the negative events, people, and actions in your past? I mean really sat down and thought them and their impacts through. While I’ve not stopped, set, thought and listed each one, I have contemplated some of the worse events in my life and realized that I am far better for them. Where as delight and joy abound as happy memories, it is the contrary events, people and actions that have been monumental and formative in my transition.

A righteous man is one who has never been tried. I’m fairly certain that is my paraphrased version of some sagely adage. But I find it true. Although maybe it should be a righteous man is a one dimensional – vanilla being. Don’t get me wrong, I love vanilla and it’s great on chocolate cake, but I want to be multi-dimension, tried by the fire and come out heat tempered.

People’s treatment of me has molded my treatment of others. I remember once Dennis Vincaguera kicking me so many times in the butt that I was wearing a thong (in the sixth grade) decades before everyone else. No I didn’t fight back, and I’m not sure why – except I don’t believe in violence. But I did learn that you can’t expect others to treat you justly or fairly, you just have to treat people the way you want to be treated yourself. Everyone just watched, my reaction in later years- I have become proactive when I see someone being abused. Maybe everyone watched without helping me because they felt the way he did, or maybe they were afraid their underwear would become a thong like mine, or maybe they just didn’t know how. I didn’t’, but I do now.

I am woman! And I over come adversity.

In October of my junior year I was raped. Not brutally raped, but raped all the same with lasting mental scars as a reminder. What I have is more than that- I have the strength of survival. Years later I thought I’d over come all aspects of that October night in 1972, until my 20th class reunion when in he walked with his wife and I turned into a quivering mass of human jello. This really disgust me on so many levels. In truth I am furious over this power because: I doubt he knows who I am, I doubt he did then even though we went to school together. I doubt he has had a second thought over the brutality and domination of that disastrous night. He had months to face it, apologize, to regret before I moved to Oregon. Nada, and I don’t expect it, because I know more about rape and the reality of life after and realize that anything more than what I have now is a pipe dream. And what I have now is everything I gave myself. I learned that in my work a day adult world I am a survivor who has over come, conquered, and live to love another day. A niggling reality is this: while I have survived I am still terrified of him. Very humbling to acknowledge, but in the same breathe I have learned a little bit of compassion for those who have been raped and not survived. Oh, a shell of what they could be walks in this world, but because they continue to be victims every day of their lives they are less than their potential. Thank you mom and dad for making me durable.

Share your smiles, they are returned tenfold when given freely.

I have long since made it a point to tell people thank you for what they have meant to me. For the impacts they made on my development. In the words of John Edward, I communicate, appreciate and validate those in my life everyday. I horde the members of my heart, my families, my loves, my teachers.

Why regret the negative actions, people and events of my life? Without them I am not who I am. I am not a righteous being, I am a learning being who is embracing the people and lessons within my life. And I like it. It’s not about the final destination; it’s all about the journey and the events along the way.

Please share your journey.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday Photo: Young and Old

I know a wee bit late, but still I'm here. While Burp certainly is young, Ducky isn't old, but if I have to say one is the other then these two are my favorite - Young and Old combination.

Shhh, don't tell Ducky I posted his picture.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Talk Thursday: My Process

Since JulieAnn put up her topic I’ve frankly, been stumped. Then I realized, “Cele you dummy you’ve a process and it is one writers like, and it’s your own process.”

Several years ago I read a book for a writer, probably Natalie, who asked me to give her my thoughts. And I wrote my first critique. Not having been educated to edit a manuscript, I developed my own technique and learned a lot a long the way, each book teaches me something new. When I first began it easily took me three complete read throughs, now I usually only need two.

First I make a copy of the manuscript then I make a chapter timeline. As I read notes fill each chapter, telling me the whos, the whens, the whats, and the wheres. I add thoughts and humorous notes upon the way. And tell when each character is introduced, their relationship to others characters, and their peculiarities.

I’ve always considered the first read through as being for me. But in truth I’ve already begun my work.

Somewhere, usually around chapter three, I begin a chapter critique. This is where I will mark the errors and observances by chapter and page for the author to see. At the same time I’m making my critiques I am marking them in the manuscript so the writer can see the whole detail. My chapter timeline allows me to reference points of interest, characteristics or actions that are in opposition or support of the story’s facts. This is why I refer to my critiques as, “Continuity Critiques.” I will keep a running day count and tell you why that woman can’t go to lunch on that day.

Finally I wrap up my critique with my personal observations. Why I loved the book, why I hated a specific characters, my personal likes and dislikes. Twice now, I’ve run into books that bogged down for me. This was a personal crisis. How do I tell a writer her baby isn’t working for me?

A dear friend, yes I work for my friends, sent me a book and I struggled to get through the first half of the book. I walked away, went back, walked away, I balked (and no this isn’t you, it was another writer.) When finally asked, I had to own up that the story wasn’t working for me. I hated the main character. And the slang, OHMIGAWD! She asked why? And I told her. Wow, it was that easy. We worked together, she found other input (that backed up my thoughts) and the story and book continued on. The process worked. The funny part is in both books, when I got half way past they worked.

Not knowing what to send to the writer, I sent every page I’d created. My chapter timeline apparently is a keeper, because I get an amazing amount of feed back on the value of my chapter timelines. Yes, they want and need the critiques, but really really look forward to the chapter timelines. Who knew?

So there you have it - my process. Apparently it works. It's different than the work other critiquers do, but it has allowed me to find a nitch in the writing world where one before had not existed (beyond poetry) for me.

To the writers who trust me with their babies, thank you. Thank you for your belief in me and allowing me into your process and your world. To date I’ve worked on nine published books, countless to be published books, one thesis, and a collection of short stories, two databases, and three websites. It has been a blessing.


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Saturday Safari

While five or six animals were involved with this story, on a few were consumed by the end of the tale.

Ducky and I celebrated our fifteenth year of wedded bliss last month. We'd planned on a steak and lobster dinner in Coos Bay the weekend following to mark the occasion. One thing lead to another and we didn't get to go. No big problem. We moved our plans to last weekend, and then well he had to work. No big problem, we moved them to this weekend. The planets aligned.

With a daily 160 mile commute, I hate to ask Ducky to drive long distances on his day off, but once in a while he makes an exception for me. In the past we have driven over a hundred miles for an ice cream cone (we toured the Tillamook Cheese factory first.) We have driven places just to turn around and drive home because we wanted to. Yesterday morning we jumped in the truck, got a mocha and headed south. What a glorious day, I'll go for a drive come rain or shine, but Saturday was picture perfect sunshine.

I sort of had Battle Rock in my head as a destination, and he chose Brookings as our turn around. We chat along the way about all sorts of topics, but mainly it is spent in just enjoying each other's company. Neither of us have ever spent time in Bandon, and we still haven't. Parking was not to be found in oldtown Bandon, but what we saw made us decide we want to go back and explore. Armed with drinks and fries we continued south. As we flew past Port Orford (doing the speed limit) we saw that several wind and sail surfers were enjoying the day and decided we stop to watch on our way back. I swear the temperature in Port Orford is 10 degrees warmer.

And we did.

We continued north to Charleston and had steak and fresh Maine lobster at the Portside Restaurant. Very nice, a bit spendy but worth it. Delicious.

Next up we're driving inland to Bellfountain, I'll take my camera.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Talk Thursday: The Sweetest Perfection

Today it appears too many people are unhappy in their lives. Stuck-in-a-rut lives,that didn’t turn out the way they wanted. They either have to work, are not working their dream job, or they are stuck in a job that isn’t what they wanted or thought it would become, yet stay because the known evil is lesser than the evil of change. They find themselves knee deep in debt or neck high in waste. Their lives are as cluttered with junk as is the spare bedroom where they throw everything they’ve either no time to put away or have no idea where to sort it to.

Sid yesterday spoke about cleaning his desk; my desk is a symbol of the clutter in my life and my mind. When work and life become overwhelming my spare bedroom bed becomes unseeable and my desk at work becomes hidden under random acts of - set aside this to work on that. On Friday afternoons, my busiest day of the week, I will stop, breathe and file. All the little piles of scattered lists (a must by my boss’ standards,) folders with time orders or commercial copy (to be cut [produced]) sticking out as reminders lay in cascading lines of set aside, before I leave, are foldered, filed, reordered, or recycled. Voila’ I’m done. It’s not perfection it’s just my system.

My spare bedroom, not so easy a task to accomplish. By Christmas reorder in the Executive Room (no work gets done there, it’s just what Ducky calls the spare bedroom – we don’t often get guest) is a must. If I don’t clean it and organize the piles into permanent places, where will my Christmas shopping get stacked and reorganized in to bags for each recipient? Ya know, it’s a complicated chore but someone has to do it. It is a symbol of my harried ness.

None of us are perfect, but we all have our own systems, they don’t always work, for some I’m thinking they never work; for others, I think they just don’t care. I am finding myself saddened and boggled by people daily. Yes, our lives are harried and cluttered, but we do it to ourselves. We seemingly always want more, the grass is always greener, and the desserts always sweeter. Or are they? Is our winter of discontent really the product of our inability to be happy with what we have? I don’t mean the couple who were mismatched from day one, but lust was too blinding to see the truth. I mean the people who aren’t content with what they have in their lives and barely tread water to keep up with the Jones.

Personally I don’t want what the Jones’ have. I have a small house if more room is a desire I will add on, not buy a bigger house with more guest rooms, more cubby holes and nooks to clean. I want cozy, livable space, I want people to walk in and want to stay a while because they feel at home. Hmmm, not many come to visit… that may be a clue.

I am happy with my yard that is under constant renovation (I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not,) my love my hot tub courtyard (okay not everyone has a hot tub or a court yard,) I am happy with my cutting garden and my lily garden (okay not so happy with the lily garden at the moment, but I’m working it out.) I love my husband, I love my dog, I love my kids, I adore adore adore my grandson, I love my family, I love my house, I love my job.

Note..s: My husband is my third and he’s not home near enough; my dog pees on the carpet and is a 93 pound lapdog… maybe that’s why people don’t come back; my kids don’t visit near enough; my grandson is perfect… except when he throws his treats wrapper behind the futon in his room; I count my daughter, my mother, and my sister among my best friends; my house is only a 1000 feet square; and my job is harried – but I love it all, it’s what I want, it’s what I need. Yes my friends, I am sated, and that is sweet perfection.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Photo Friday: CameraPhone

I'm stealing this idea from Steve. I have a phone, it takes pictures, but I don't have email on my phone, or internet. Texting is blocked...blasted spam. Even the phone company was surprised at the spam I got. So I can't fulfill the topic... CameraPhone pictures. Ergo, it is now er was Free Photo Friday.

I'm in the middle of coping pictures from my mother's massive photo collection. These two pictures, some how go with last week's Talk Thursday topic. But only in the course of conversation you must understand.

Pinecone on Little Joe circa 1964
And me too.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Talk Thursday: Dog & Pony

I’m not sure what Dog and Pony actually refers to. While I do have a dog, he’s more like a tank; I’ve not had a pony since I was a kid and well really it wasn’t mine. He was my aunt’s boyfriend's, Cowboy George had won Little Joe and the ranch he was on in a poker game. The same way he lost it. True story.

While I have a tank yet no pony I do have a story to tell. I love music, my two (almost life long) favorite groups: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Sometimes Young and the Moody Blues. I have seen CSN and have tickets to see them again at the Cuthbert on September 11th. I’ve yet to see the Moody Blues. But then that is part of the story.

Several weeks ago Pinecone called me on a Wednesday night to ask if I thought mom would enjoy seeing the Moody Blues at the Cuthbert. As my childhood roommate, Pinecone grew up with enforced- ram it down your throat, hours long Moody Blues listening sessions through out her formative and teen years- yes, until I moved out. I guess it stuck. She’s seen MB in concert four to five times, once with full accompanying orchestra – I am so jealous.

But what was she thinking? Mom would constantly yell at me to turn it down, turn it off, go outside in the fresh air. I’m thinking had the phrase, “Get a life” been popular I’d have heard her say that several times, too. “Pine,” I said, “I don’t think so.” Then I began to think, remember the time I thought she’d like So You Think You Could Dance, and I was way wrong? “Pine, what do I know, maybe she will, ask her.”

“Do you have a Moody Blues CD you could give her?”

“Well, yeah, duh!” Sometimes with my vocabulary you’d never guess I’m 53.

That Thursday night I met Mom and grandma for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant. When she sat down I hand mom the Best of MB and said, “Pine wanted you to listen to this, if you like the Moody Blues she wants to take you for your birthday. “

Taking the CD my mom said, “I enjoy the Moody Blues.”

Grandma chimes in, “Me too!” In unison I get, “They were on PBS, they were great.”

WTF do I know. Statement, not a question?


Monday night, Ducky has just gone to bed when my cellphone rang. At first all I could here was musical “Wa-Wa-Wa” until Pinecone’s voice comes on the line and say, “Our mother wanted me to call you. Here.”

And what did my parental unit want to say? In essence, “Nee-neer, nee-neer, nee-neer.” Pine tells me, that besides rocking out to the Moody Blues all night long in a sweltering 99 degrees, she got a total kick out of people watching. She was a bit surprised and curious about what the people behind them were smoking. While she did notice it “smelled different” she didn’t truly notice until security spoke with them.

No dog and pony, just Pinecone and mom.