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Archive for July, 2009

Mint Toes, my friend Patty’s toenails in same design, different color, July 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Mint Toes, my friend Patty’s toenails in same design, different color, July 2009, photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 









last days of july
tonight we bought school supplies
i’ll miss painted toenails















-related to posts toenail art haiku, WRITING TOPIC – FEET & TOES and haiku 2 (one-a-day).

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Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle,
pendant and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 

Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

 





Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved    Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved    Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved






Other titles I thought of for this post:

  

  • Look Mom, I Made It Myself!
  • Coming Soon to a Store Near You
  • Would Say More But Must Go Make Tile Pendants
  • What Children and Husband?
  • Yogurt & Popcorn for Dinner
  • Not Planning to Lose My Day Job Yet, But Dang, Am Having Fun!!

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evil eye, a belief held by many cultures that if a person envies you or what you have and stares at that object, the object will be cursed, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



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Note to red Ravine Readers: This doodle is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned? 

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings  and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY

To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!

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It’s a distasteful emotion. Who wants to admit they envy the cut arms of so-and-so? But I do. That is one thing I’ll never have but wish I did. Firm, muscular arms. A smaller nose, maybe as long as it is now and with the same bump, but not so bulbous at the end. And a more angular face. Not one that gets jowly as I age.

I remember a game I used to play in my head where I’d give myself one thing I could change about my appearance. Would it be more height? Straight hair? Thicker eyebrows? I did this when I was 20-something and insecure, when the best thing I had going for me (in my opinion) was a beauty mark on my chest.

I still try to get cut arms, still use weights three times a week, still think that maybe, miraculously, they will tighten up before my eyes, like in time-lapse photography.

When I was a girl and we got Sears, Montgomery Wards, and JC Penney catalogs, I would go through the toy section and pick one item on each page that I could have. Just one. I allowed myself to cache my picks–if I skipped a page, didn’t want anything it had to offer, I could pick two items on another page.

I especially liked Easy Bake ovens and tall dolls with blue eyes and brown hair. I skipped bicycles and sometimes rocking horses. In my perfect world, I had a miniature kitchen in my room and a little crib for my make-believe daughter. How did I end up becoming so not-domestic now?

I was my most envious when I was in high school. Leanne S. got a jeep, white with a convertible top, in 11th grade, and I dreamed of driving that thing in summer. The whole notion of a jeep, rugged and carefree, fit completely who I wanted to be. I envied her parents who slipped her money with, at the most, a sort of disgusted look.

Dad always made a big deal out of giving me money. It was a process. First he said nothing, then he complained, then he took out his wallet and looked through it slowly and carefully, and finally he handed me the money, but reluctantly, like he might pull the bill back just as my fingers made contact. His final final step was to pull out the miniature spiral notebook from his breast pocket, open to the current page and note in his teeny-tiny handwriting the amount he’d given me.


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Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned? 

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings  and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY

To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!

Read Full Post »

Envy leaves me cold. What do I envy? Not material things. More clarity. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do at 12 years old and went on as adults to make it a career. I envy those who have never suffered from depression or anxiety or lack of belief in themselves. I envy the way Nature doesn’t have to worry about its next move; she simply knows where to step. The next step. The next right step.

Envy can be paralyzing. Comparing my insides to someone else’s outside. Maybe that’s a form of envy. What about the competitive edge in sports? Envy? I read that Tiger Woods was throwing his golf clubs in anger right before he left the last tournament; he was way down the list as a finalist. Was that envy? Not healthy competitive nature to throw metal objects in uncontrolled anger. Even if it is directed at the self. I remember those days in high school and college sports. So closely identified with athleticism and winning that I soon forgot how to lose. I’m glad to be away from all that.

Envy. Is it green or red? I’m thinking more red. Is envy a form of self-hate, anger, insecurity, lack of self-esteem. I feel envious when I’m not doing as well as I’d like to be doing. Usually when I’m more down than up. When I’m doing well, I don’t care what others are doing or what they think; I feel like I’m on the right path for me. When I lose my way, those are the times I am more apt to feel envy.

I used to be insanely jealous in relationships. I clung to them to feel safe. My whole identity was wrapped up in friendships, attachments, partnerships with other people. People that sometimes weren’t good for me. I had to do a lot of work to let that go. When I learned more about who I was, I let go of what I thought I had to be in order to be loved. Does that make sense? Jealousy is another emotion that takes us out of ourselves, away from core goodness. I do believe that we all start out as good people. Things happen along the way that change us. Sometimes those changes are irreversible. And we walk around carrying envy.

The things we carry. Envy, greed, jealousy, hate, rage. Love, kindness, gratitude, generosity, warmth. I’d rather focus on the glass half full. What changed me? Hard work. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Reconnecting with people. And looking at my own faults, so I could more readily accept the faults of others.

I want to say envy is something I don’t experience. But I do. The last month I have envied those who are not grieving or feeling loss. I have envied those whose lives seem happy and well on track. Something will happen in life — a death, or the end of an important relationship, an illness, or the loss of a job — and an old tape is triggered. It taps at the brain, scrapes at the edges of self-worth.

Luckily, the self is connected to the wide and deep tree roots on the ash in the front yard. Self is connected to last night’s July sunset backlighting fishermen in a canoe; the outdoor orchestra playing in the band shell by a glacial lake; sweating and geocaching through the woods with Liz; the spiderwort, evening primrose, or red pepper growing in pots on the deck.

Self is connected to the purple finch at the feeder, the Lake Harriet Lake Creature, the ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s, the fact that yesterday marked the beginning of another year I may walk this Earth. All good things come to pass if we let them in. Sometimes that’s not easy and goodness is blocked. Envy follows.

 

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Note to red Ravine Readers: This Writing Practice is related to the Topic of Envy posted for the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. For background and inspiration about Envy, read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and the piece The Case of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez: Is It Envy Or Earned? 

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, there is a widespread assumption that Envy is an emotion. Other posts that might help jog the memory when writing about tough or secretive emotions are Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings  and WRITING TOPIC – EMOTIONAL VOCABULARY

To enter the ENVY contest and learn how to participate, go to the Contest Submission Guidelines. There is no fee to enter. You will be competing for an Amazon Kindle and a chance to have your creative work featured in a groundbreaking new documentary film. Deadline is August 15th!

Read Full Post »

Howling Reporter newsletter, Memorial to Raven, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo of Raven © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf, all rights reserved

Raven, Howling Reporter (Summer 2009), image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Jan Ravenwolf. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
There on the cover of the new issue of the Howling Reporter was a giant close-up of Raven, his muzzle tinged with silver, eyes piercing, posture regal. My eyes drifted down to the right-hand corner, RAVEN 04-04-95 – 04-12-09, and I called to Jim. “Oh no! Raven died.”
 
We have Ms. Kimball to thank for the fact that we got to known Raven. Dee’s 4th grade teacher assigned her students and their families to take a field trip somewhere they’d never been in New Mexico. We picked the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, west of Albuquerque, through the Navajo village of Ramah and down a long gravel road, in the isolated mountain community of Candy Kitchen.

It was a Friday in January, 2006. We stopped for breakfast at a mission-turned-art-gallery in Grants, then hit the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in the Zuni Mountains. We marvelled over Inscription Rock—at the El Morro National Monument—where travelers have been leaving writings in the soft sandstone for centuries. But the best treat of all was seeing the wolves.

We arrived late in the day, and as we scrambled out of the Subaru into the winter air we heard a chorus of howls coming from what seemed like all directions. Thrilled by the eerie wailing, we rushed the front door of the hogan that housed the visitor information and gift shop.

Next tour was at 4p. We wandered the warm cave-like space, letting the girls each pick out one item. Dee chose a small pouch of wolf hair, Em a frog fetish.

A young woman named Angel was our guide. We were the only people on the tour. We started with the oldest wolves, in the earliest enclosures, the ones that went in when the sanctuary was young and could afford only to set aside small areas for the wolves. Over time, as the sanctuary grew the enclosures began to encompass the natural surroundings. Raven’s area was expansive and incorporated trees, brush, and rocks that were already in the spot where the enclosure was built.

Angel told us how each animal was characterized by how much wolf content it contained. Some were pure wolf; high-content wolf-dogs were mostly wolf and low-content wolf-dogs mostly dog. We even met a pure dog that a previous owner had mistakenly identified as a wolf-dog and abandoned. Raven was a black Timber wolf, ebony in his youth but increasingly silver around his face as he aged.

A lanky man with disheveled brown hair, I think his name was Ian, joined us as we admired Raven. Raven was imposing yet friendly; he came to the fence to see us. “Want to howl with Raven,” Ian asked. “Yes, yes,” we chimed. “OK, on the count of three.” Ian started howling, then Raven, then we joined in, the steam from our breath rising like smoke above us.

Ian asked if Jim wanted to formally greet Raven. “Sure,” Jim said. Ian walked along the fence line with the black wolf, so closely that Raven’s fur touched Ian’s leg and hand and vice versa. “See, we’re rubbing fur,” he told Jim, “You try it.”

Jim walked to the fence and stood waiting. Raven, understanding what was happening, walked to Jim and rubbed his fur along Jim’s leg, then circled back and did it again. “Cool.” Jim was grinning when he turned in our direction.

We left the sanctuary reluctantly, as the light was leaving the day. Driving home in darkness, we said hardly a word. Raven, the other wolves, the entire field trip left us full and content. 

 

Raven and Sanctuary Director Leyton Cougar, image reprinted with permission from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Phil Sonier, all rights reservedThe next day, Saturday, Jim went to Western Warehouse to buy a new pair of work boots. He saw a crowd near the entrance to the Sunflower Market next door. As he approached he suddenly noticed a big black wolf on a lead, straining through the crowd in his direction. People moved aside to let the wolf stare, like a pointing spaniel, at the thing grabbing its attention. Raven, recognizing Jim’s scent from the day before, wanted to say Hello.
 
“Raven’s at the Sunflower. Hurry, they’re leaving soon.” It was Jim, calling on the cell phone. Em and I arrived just as Raven’s handler and director of Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, Leyton Cougar, was loading Raven into a white van. We pulled up next to the van and jumped out of the car, explaining that we’d met the wolf almost exactly 24 hours before. Leyton let us pet Raven while he finished loading the van. Raven licked Em’s face.

We saw Raven a few other times during his ambassador trips to Albuquerque. The last time I saw him was at Whole Foods. By then he had retired from big engagements. Someone said that he’d become sensitive to loud noise and crowds. I came back to the house gushing in dreamy tones about Raven. He had the power to make you fall in love every time you saw him.

We all cried as we read Leyton’s tribute to Raven in the Howling Reporter. Angel also wrote a moving piece, as did others who had the honor to live and work with this amazing creature. We learned that Raven came within days of being euthanized at the age of two, after his owner suffered a heart attack and couldn’t pay the cost to transport Raven to the sanctuary. A visitor to Candy Kitchen, hearing the plight of a wolf that would be put down if someone didn’t intervene, wrote a check for her last $400. Because of her, Raven was able to live twelve more years and teach young and old about the true nature of wolves.

Jim and I will make a donation to the sanctuary in Raven’s memory. We hope you’ll learn as much as possible about this incredible place and consider visiting it some day if you ever get a chance.
 
 
 
 

Raven, image reprinted from website with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Angie Albrecht, all rights reserved

 


He was almost two years old when we met. He had midnight black fur with silver tips and a white flash on his chest. His presence was commanding. His eyes, like amber fire, reflected his energetic, electric personality.

I will never forget our first encounter and the shiver of fear that ripped through my body as he grabbed me by my right arm—the same arm that just three years prior, had been ripped open by an angry wolf-dog, who put me in the hospital for eleven days.

Raven didn’t hurt me that first day. He gave me something…or perhaps he flipped a switch inside of me. Whatever it was, it began something beautiful, a unique relationship between a man and a beast. Raven was born an ambassador for the wolf world. He was the go-between, sent to teach humans the truth about wolves. He dispelled the myth that wolves are the big bad beast that will run amuck and eat your children. They are family oriented social creatures who love and respect each member of their pack. He told the world that wolves are not a threat to man and are a necessary, intrinsic and intricate part of nature and our ecosystem.

~Leyton Cougar, Director of the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, excerpted from the Howling Reporter newsletter, with permission




Raven & Leyton's Last Day, image reprinted with permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo © 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, all rights reserved

Raven & Leyton’s Last Day, image reprinted with
permission from the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, photo
© 2009 by Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. All rights reserved.





To read the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary memorial to Raven, click here. To meet the sanctuary’s wolves, click here, and here to meet the wolf-dogs. If you’re interested in making a donation in support of wolf rescue and care, please click here.

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Other titles I thought of for this post:

 

  • Night of the Living Spud
  • Eek, a Potato!
  • The Root of All Root Vegetables
  • I *am* a Green Thumb Afterall!



Please, add your own. Or, write a haiku inspired by these taters. Heck, how about a Writing Practice on Everything I know about potatoes. Go!

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Shit Lit

Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, former reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune, has churned out another book as part of her moneymaking machine. This one’s called The Husband Habit. Because I forced myself to read it, I know it’s about Vanessa Duran, a chef at an upscale Albuquerque restaurant. And—wouldn’t you know it?—she has the unlucky habit of unknowingly dating married men. What is a thirysomething to do? Swear off men, that’s what! Of course, that’s when a handsome man enters the scene. I wonder what happens?

 

~Erin Adair-Hodges, Alibi, July 9-15, 2009

 
 
That is the title and opening paragraph to a short review of Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s latest book, The Husband Habit. The review appeared in Albuquerque’s Alibi, a weekly alternative newspaper.

Now, negative reviews, and especially downright mean ones—I mean, “Shit Lit”??—tend to function in the same way that positive reviews do. They catch your attention and make you want to find out what all the fuss is about.
 
I’m familiar with Valdes-Rodriguez. She hails from New Mexico and is widely known for the outrageous success of her first novel, The Dirty Girls Social Club. But before that book came out, I worked with her father at the University of New Mexico. He’d been my professor, then later an associate. (He and I once led a group of travelers to Cuba for a tour in the mid 1990s, during a brief time when travel to the island was allowed for academics and journalists.) I remember him boasting that his daughter had landed a job with the Boston Globe and was making more than he was. Clearly proud, he spoke of her often.

I moved on to a new job and didn’t hear of Valdes-Rodriguez again until her father sent me an email telling me that she was moving back to NM to start a family. She then called to inquire about jobs at my company, although she made it clear that she was a writer and wanted to work in that field.

The next time I heard about Valdes-Rodriguez was when her debut novel came out. What interested me most, more than the book itself, was the story behind it. Here, from the Encylopedia of World Biography, is the reason I was fascinated:
 
 

After Boston, Valdes-Rodriguez moved on to the Los Angeles Times in 1998, where she covered the Spanish-language music industry. She also married and became pregnant, and she and her husband decided to move to her home state.Her letter of resignation to her LA Times bosses was a lengthy e-mail screed that made it onto the Internet, and gained Valdes-Rodriguez a certain measure of notoriety. In it, she excoriated the paper’s editors for grouping the diverse nationalities of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean under a single umbrella term. “‘Latino’—as used in The Los Angeles Times—is the most recent attempt at genocide perpetrated against the native people of the Americas,” she asserted, according to a New York Times article by Dinitia Smith.

Not surprisingly, Valdes-Rodriguez had a difficult time finding another job in journalism thanks to that letter. She scraped by, doing freelance public-relations work for Hispanic entertainers, and had to rely on Medicaid to cover the cost of her son’s delivery. But when she submitted a proposal for a nonfiction book about Hispanic pop divas, the editors who read it asked if she had written any fiction instead. Valdes-Rodriguez had been working intermittently on a manuscript for several years, and decided to leave her infant son at home with her husband and head for the local Starbucks. “The staff thought that I was strange because I was there all the time,” she recalled in an interview with London Daily Telegraph writer Marcus Warren. “I would be there 10 to 15 hours a day for two weeks.”

The submitted manuscript sparked a bidding war among publishers, who had long sought a “Latina Terry McMillan” to jump-start fiction aimed at Hispanic-American female readers. Valdes-Rodriguez earned a $475,000 advance on the book’s royalties when she signed with St. Martin’s Press, though that had not been the highest offer tendered….

 
 
 

alisa valdes-rodriguez

 
 

Someone loaned me a copy of The Dirty Girls Social Club. It was a fast read, and I could understand how it made headlines by rejecting the notion that there was such a thing as a homogenous Latino population. Valdes-Rodriguez went on to publish several other novels, some aimed toward young readers, although I’ve never read anything more by her. While I admired her for busting the myth of the Latino label, I didn’t find her writing to be epecially deep.

But even given my lack of enthusiasm for Valdes-Rodriguez, the Alibi review of her latest novel seemed brutal. Perhaps the reviewer was trying to get back at the author; The Husband Habit is set in Albuquerque and apparently mentions the city’s “juvenile alternative weekly.” Still, these snippets from the review strike me as being over the top:
 

The novel’s slight attempt at being something more than a cut-and-dried romance comes in the form of Vanessa learning that her snap judgments of the handsome man (Dave? Steve? I can’t bear the thought of picking up the book again to find out) were wrong.



There’s more to hate: The cartoonish boss, the drama involving Vanessa’s parents that seems to be important but is later completed dropped, the lines like “Men totally suck.”



…I’ll say this: I’d rather snort a basket of dog farts than have to read this again.

 


There does seem to be more than your average amount of controversy surrounding Valdes-Rodriguez. An incident from earlier this year had to do with her apparently coming out as a bisexual in an email interview with GLBT website After Ellen, then later denying it. The website’s editor explained the debacle in a column titled The Woman Who Cried “Bisexual.”

And if you do a Google search of her name, you’ll find several other unflattering items, which I had not read until I decided to do a post about the mean-spirited review. I’m not particularly interested in a rehash.

All of which leaves me with this. When I first came across the Alibi review, I asked myself, Is it Envy?? That would make sense. Valdes-Rodriguez did and continues to do what most of us only dream of. But now I’m left thinking that maybe it’s Earned. I don’t know. I suppose it could be both. In fact, it very well might be both.

If you figure it out, would you let me know?




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Postscript: Speaking of Envy, don’t forget the Out of The Blue Films “ENVY Contest” at red Ravine. Read the essay Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin) and then go to the Contest Submission Guidelines to learn how to participate and compete for an Amazon Kindle.

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Insomnia, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

every waking moment
fitful bursts of sleeplessness
posing as dreams

 
 
 
 
 
 

Couldn’t sleep last night; so many scattered thoughts rolling around in my head. They say you wake up at 3 a.m. for anxiety, 4 a.m. for depression. I must be feeling anxious. At a few minutes before 3 a.m. (Dead Time), I was wide awake. So wide awake, I even broke the 5-7-5 structure on the Sleeplessness senryu (not typical of my haiku).

I did keep the 17 syllables. After a few years of haiku, they must be hardwired into me. Sometimes I’ll dream about writing and counting haiku in my sleep. I once read about a Japanese poet, Shuson Kato (born Takeo Kato but referred to by his pen-name, Shuson), who counted syllables on his fingers while he lay unconscious a few weeks before his death.

 
Here is an excerpt from his 1993 obituary in the Independent – Shuson Kato, poet and scholar: born Tokyo 26 May 1905; died Tokyo 3 July 1993:

In April this year, he fell sick, but again recovered and started the arduous task of choosing the weekly poems for the Asahi. Alas, on 20 June he lost consciousness: the 11 July issue of the Asahi poetry page was his last. It was said that even while he lay unconscious he was moving his fingers in the typical syllable-counting fashion of every haiku poet, bending the fingers inwards towards the palm, then releasing them again one by one.

Shuson believed in the healing powers of poetry. Again from his obituary:

In 1957, Kadokawa Shoten issued a first collected edition of Shuson’s works. But the poet fell ill in 1960 and underwent chest operations, presumably for tuberculosis. Yet he continued writing haiku. As he said: ‘Without my haiku I am nothing. It is only haiku I live for, and only haiku that keep me alive.’

His faith in the healing power of poetry was such that he gradually recovered. It was in the Sixties that Shuson became identified in the popular mind as a poet who wrote in order to explore ‘how human beings should live’.

Powerful testament to the value of poetry, an art form whose readership is dropping. I find the ancient haiku poets inspiring. It is customary for haiku poets to compose a death haiku just before dying, an epitaph that lives on. Perhaps you’d like to leave your own haiku or senryu in the Comments to honor the recent July 3rd anniversary of Shuson’s death.

 

Blue (If I Knew Then, What I Know Now),
Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo ©
2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

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Epilogue: At 6 a.m. when Liz’s alarm was about to go off, I was heading to bed and a Version 2 of the Sleeplessness haiku popped into my head. I don’t know if Versions 1 and 2 are opposites, or complements like red/green or orange/blue.

 

every sleeping moment
fitful bursts of wakefulness
posing as dreams

 

Below are a few other Night Owl posts from over the years. I am most creative in the middle of the night or very early in the morning in that space between dark and light. I wonder if there are other Night Owls out there who write poetry in their sleep. Or if the Early Bird still catches the worm. 
 

 

-posted on red Ravine in the space between Tuesday morning, July 14th, 2009 and Monday night, July 13th

-related to these obituary posts on red Ravine: The Uses of Sorrow – What Is It About Obituaries?, Reading The Obits, Halloween Short List: (#2) Build Your Own Casket

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By Louis Robertson

 
 

This list is a work-in-progress and represents some of the lessons life has taught me. I started it as a “gift” to my children and wanted it to be something they could return to again and again to help put things into perspective and to add focus to their lives. QuoinMonkey, whose opinion I have always trusted, encouraged me to share it with a larger audience. I agreed hoping that the readers of red Ravine may find something in this they can use.

 
 
 

Things I Wanted You To Learn

 
 

1 – As long as you remember me I will stay alive in your memories. You are my legacy, my magnum opus.

 
 

2 – I am very proud of the person each of you has become. Although I did not say it as much as I felt it, you are the source of my joy and pride as a father.

 
 

3 – You can achieve anything! If you can imagine it, you can do it, but it will take hard work. It will not come easy, but if you believe in your ability to achieve, know you have the desire to see it through and persevere, then it can happen. Oh, and a good plan helps.

 
 

4 – Everyone has worth! Even the marginalized — especially the marginalized — have something to contribute to your life. You need to work beyond the visceral feelings, put yourself in their place, and look for the lesson.

 
 

5 – You are constantly being presented with opportunities to learn and grow. God doesn’t give things to you, rather he allows opportunities to be presented to you and it is your responsibility to recognize them, learn from them, and grow.

 
 

6 – Don’t get stuck in the past. What happened, happened. No amount of rehashing, bitching, complaining, or wishing will change the fact that it happened. Look for the lesson and move on, but understand that sometimes it may take years for the lesson to present itself to you.

 
 

7 – When someone has the ability to really irritate you, either by their actions or beliefs, step back! Try to identify what is bothersome and put a new face on it. For example, that person who is always butting into your conversations? Ask yourself, What purpose does this serve to them? Are they lonely, feeling marginalized, friendless, or just trying to get noticed? Then wonder what their self worth may be to have to do this to feel alive, noticed, or a part of something. Maybe even wonder how things must be at home for them. Now ask yourself “How can I help them feel better about their life?” But also remember, sometimes people are just jerks.

 
 

8 – Always remember that you are loved and have a large family to fall back on when things are tough. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it is not a sign of weakness. It took me 43 years to realize that allowing people to step up and take some of the burden from me is often a gift to them.

 
 

9 – Remember the lesson I taught you as a kid about power. You have a reservoir of power that you control. Be stingy with who you give it to. That kid that knows he can make you mad by calling you fat is taking away some of your power. To get it back you need to be aware of your reaction and change it. This will not only help you with your personal interactions but is essential when trying to break a cycle of reactionary behavior. Once you fall into a pattern, the pattern will repeat itself until something changes. Changing your reaction will make the interaction more real and will cause you to look at it from another perspective. Once you change the pattern it will either fall apart or create a new trigger to a new pattern. Listen to that little voice that says, “Why do we always have the same argument over and over?” and use that pause to look for the pattern, and then change it.

 
 

10 – Make at least one person smile every day. Find something to compliment them on. Do something unexpected for them. Tell them they are important to you. Some days it may be the catalyst that changes their lives or the start of a chain reaction of passing the smile on. When you are given the choice, make a positive impact rather than a negative impression.

 
 

11 – Challenge yourself to be the best person you can be! Don’t settle for okay, strive to be great! Do each task to the best of your ability. Make it a game or a challenge. Don’t just do the job to check it off a list, do it so you can stand back and say out loud, “I did that!”

 
 
 
 

∞ ∞ ∞

 
 
 

About Louis: Louis Robertson (R3) is a divorced father of two teenage children who lives in South Central Pennsylvania. His day-to-day life centers on his children and teaching them about responsible living. He earns a living as a computer systems consultant.

Louis has experienced medical challenges since he was a teenager. After his first liver transplant in 1993, his perspective on life became more focused and his appreciation for the little treasures life grants increased. When he learned he needed a second liver transplant, his focus moved to preparing his family and children for a future without him. He now is a candidate for a third liver transplant and lives his life watching for life lessons he can pass on to his children.

 

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Nebula On The 4th Of July, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Nebula On The 4th Of July, July Thunder Moon on the left, explosion of Fireworks on the right, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Daisy On Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Star Power, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Daisy On Fire, Star Power, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Dandelion, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Dandelion (Blown), Chaos, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Space Between, Fire & Rain, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Sky Dancer, Aurora Borealis, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Point Of Reference, Sky Circles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

Big Sky & Little Sky: Galaxy, Dandelion, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

Smiley Face Fireworks, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
July 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.

 

♦ ∞ ♦   Sky fire and the shape of July at a local park. The July Thunder Moon is in nearly every shot.

♦ ∞ ♦   No matter how much darkness, light is just around the corner.

♦ ∞ ♦   More in the Lightpainting Series on Flickr.



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, July 11th, 2009

-related to posts:  winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min, dead of winter haiku (moon trilogy), The 13th Moon, Jupiter, & Venus, Thunder Moon haiku (July)

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Minnesota State Fair Poster Art, detail of art by painter Leo Stans, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

The century-old Grandstand stood quietly in the distance when I rounded the corner by the historic J. V. Bailey House. I was driving to St. Paul for an ice cream social at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. The occasion was the June 11th unveiling of the 2009 State Fair commemorative painting by Belle Plaine artist Leo Stans.

Summer cottonwood flew through the air when I lined up for my root beer float. A few minutes later, I walked into the historic Bailey house and literally bumped into my friend Teri who works at the Fair. She introduced me to her coworkers, we talked a little Minnesota State Fair history, then she led me over to meet the artist.

Like poet Ted Kooser, Minnesota artist Leo Stans started out as an insurance salesman, dabbled in art, and began painting full-time in 1980. He painted wildlife, golf courses (he’s an avid golfer), and eventually transitioned into historical street scenes. In a newspaper quote, he said: “My thinking was that if you wanted to buy something nostalgic or historical, the only thing being offered was small towns and barns. I thought I would create a niche.”

According to an article by John Brewer in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Stans said he had been trying for the last 5 years to get a booth at the Grandstand to sell his work during the Fair. Ironically, that led to his applications making their way to the Fair staff and to his being awarded the 6th commission in the commemorative series last November.

 
 

Artist Leo Stans & MN State Fair 2009 Commemorative Oil Painting, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting (Detail), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Artist Leo Stans & Minnesota State Fair 2009 Commemorative Oil Painting, Minnesota State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting (Detail), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

I shook Leo’s hand and immediately began asking him about the 28″ x 42″ oil painting. He said he did the research for summer’s “Great Minnesota Get-Together” in the dead cold of a Midwest winter. It took him 3 weeks to sketch it out, another 3 weeks to put paint to canvas.

He explained to me that the painting moves back in time as you walk from the Grandstand to the Ferris wheel, blending clothing styles of the past with those of the present. And like Hitchcock who appears in many of his films, Stans paints himself into all of his paintings. (If you stare long enough at the top photograph, you can spot him walking down the Midway.)

For many, the Minnesota State Fair is about making memories, a family tradition going back for generations. By choosing the 100th birthday of the Grandstand as the central theme for 2009, and including other historic icons like the carousel and mascot Fairchild, Stans captures and brings those memories to life through paint.

I’m a history buff and drawn to his dreamlike Twin Cities street scenes. The 2009 Fair painting has much the same feel and has been reproduced on postcards, posters, and buttons with proceeds benefiting the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. (The State Fair has a long history of being independently funded and has not received government appropriations since 1949.)

 
 

  Minnesota State Fair Postcard, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Minnesota State Fair Poster Art (II), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Minnesota State Fair Postcard, Minnesota State Fair Poster Art (II), St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
 
 

The Minnesota State Fair 2009 begins August 27th and ends September 7th. And if you become one of the Friends of The Minnesota State Fair you will receive exclusive benefits including gate tickets, pre-sale access to Grandstand shows, bricks, benches, and more. Purchasing a $50 Yellow Ribbon package by August 1st, 2009 grants you the following:
 

  • Friends of the Fair card
  • FunFair news
  • Invitation to annual pre-fair event
  • Hospitality invitation to J.V. Bailey House during the State Fair
  • 2 State Fair and/or parking admission tickets
  • 1 State Fair annual pin
  • 1 Blue Ribbon Bargain Book with 100 great State Fair deals

 

There are also Green, Red, Blue, Purple, and Silver packages to choose from. Liz and I are looking forward to this year. Happy Fair going!

 
 

Belle Plaine Artist Leo Stans & MN State Fair Commemorative Oil Painting, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Thanks to Leo Stans for permission to photograph him and his work, to Teri for reminding me about the art event, and to John for providing me with the newspaper clipping from the June 12th St. Paul Pioneer Press article by John Brewer – Painting Celebrates Fond Fair Memories.

 
 

Minnesota State Fair Space Tower, St. Paul, Minnesota, June 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Below are links to past red Ravine posts and photographs about the history, foods on-a-stick, and fun available to all at the Minnesota State Fair. And if you check the comments on several of the posts, they are dripping with little-known Fair facts, trivia, and nostalgia from a mutual friend of ybonesy’s and mine, Teri Blair. For more of the Fair experience, you can also view my Minnesota State Fair Series on Flickr.

 
 
 

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

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4, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

I planned to be outside right now working in the garden, but it’s raining too hard. And wouldn’t you know, tomorrow’s our Fourth of July bash. The fridge is full of  brats, hamburger, chicken, and loads of veggies to grill.

I should have known it would be raining the day before the party. It rained leading to and on the day of our Easter gathering, the tapas to-do, and my oldest daughter’s end-of-school gala. Either our party planning acts as a sort of rain dance, or north-central New Mexico is getting a lot of rain this year.

No matter. Come rain or shine, the party will go one. Hopefully the Fourth of July parade won’t be rained out (it’s my favorite of all several parades our Village holds). But if it is, that’s OK. We love the rain!


What about you? What will you be doing this Fourth of July?
 

Whatever it is…


Have a safe and colorful Fourth!



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American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

American Green Tree Frog, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Is green Envy’s hue?
Or simply bumps on the skin
of a scared tree frog.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Post Script:  Can’t seem to get moving this week. After we had to let Chaco go last Thursday, the only thing that seems to sooth me is Nature. Hence, the American Green Tree Frog. On Summer Solstice, Liz accidentally brushed this little guy off a glass table filled with blooming plants; she thought it was a leaf. When she screamed, he suddenly leaped off the tip of her palm and on to the deck. After the initial shock, I caught him in a glass coffee mug so I could safely let him go in the garden.

 

Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Eye To Frog Eye, Minneapolis, Minnesota,
June 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.

 
 

The Frog Moon came late on the heels of a dry Spring. I think Frog is one of Liz’s totems. I rarely see them in our yard or gardens. But Liz seems to bump into them everywhere. It turns out our little green friend may be with us for a while — the average lifespan of a frog is 4 to 15 years.

 You can listen to the American Green Tree Frog and read Weird Frog Facts at Frogland: All About Frogs.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TOADS & FROGS, A Celebration Of GREEN On red Ravine…, What Is Your Totem Animal?, Cracking Envy (Or How I Learned To Stop Romancing A Deadly Sin), haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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