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Archive for December, 2009

Somewhere between Santa Fe and Albuquerque (one), on the RailRunner Express, December 30, 2009, iPhone photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 

2009: re-flec-tion

 
–noun
 
 
1. the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.
2. an image; representation; counterpart.
3. a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
4. a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 




Get out your fast-writing pens. The year 2009 (and the first decade of the 21st Century) is over. What did it reveal to you? What did you reveal to yourself?

Reflect on the past year. Write it out. Write about the trip to Santa Fe, the visit to your favorite store (the one with fake geese walking in a line to the front door) where you found an elegant wrist and hand made of blue glass for storing your rings.

Write about the books you read, the movies you saw, the many bowls of popcorn, salted and buttered, you ate. Write the tears and the illness and the losses and gains, the itches and tics, people and places, the time you laughed so hard you fell off the green sofa.









2010: in-ten-tion


–noun


1. an act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result.
2. the end or object intended; purpose.









Make a list of your intentions for the new year. What do you plan (not hope, but plan) to realize? Reach far and wide, but do so in a pragmatic way. You can achieve what you set your mind to do. Put it out to the universe.

I will…I will…I will…

Fill in the blanks. What will you do this year?








_____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Postscript: For many people, this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are the start of a long weekend. Take time these next few days to look backward and forward. Even a half hour spent quietly—reflecting on 2009, thinking about 2010—will help you enter the new year with a sense of being grounded, feet on the ground, ready for what comes.


To all red Ravine readers, we are grateful to have spent the past year with you. We look forward to another one.

Happy New Year!


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________


The images in this post came from a day trip from Albuquerque to Santa Fe and back on the RailRunner Express, December 30, 2009. It was a cold day. Low clouds threatened rain or snow, and by the time we boarded for the one-hour-fifteen-minutes back, the snowflakes had started falling.


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New pages, testing out my new doodle journal, Christmas gift to myself, December 26, 2009, images © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
Today is all mine. It’s almost two and still I’m dressed in my light blue, light flannel pajamas. They’re old-fashioned, the kind of button-down-top and pants that Ricky Ricardo and Lucy used to wear. As Jim said, “Now if someone comes over early on a weekend, you won’t have to scramble to get dressed.”

No scramblin’ today.
 
 
 
 

my three cranes

 
 
This was the view from my kitchen window yesterday morning. The three cranes who’ve been hanging out here for over a month had meandered up to the spot where the pasture meets the patio—the closest point to the house without actually being on the patio.

One crane stands sentinel while the other two eat or preen. If they catch us in the window watching them, they sometimes stop what they’re doing and stare back. Us watching cranes watching us watching them.

It’s reminiscent of that spring when we had nearly two dozen turkeys lounging on the patio furniture, including the farm table that’s pushed up against the exterior wall of the kitchen. Turkeys looking in on us, and now cranes. Birds, Big Birds, are social animals. Either that or curious ones.
 
When I crept out the sliding glass door over to the low wall that separates patio from pasture, the cranes booked on out. They didn’t take flight, but they wandered away on their incredibly long and skinny legs to a more comfortable gazing distance.
 
 
 

December Cranes, cranes in the pasture retreating when I move closer, December 28, 2009, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

November Cranes, same cranes, November 28, 2009,
photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 

changing tradition

 
 
My sister Patty and Mom made Christmas tamales this year. It’s a tradition in our family. Patty suggested that Mom try adding red chile to her masa this time around. Mom had never done that before. Normally the masa is made straight up—corn mixture and water or broth. Not being the most traditional of women, Mom agreed to the change.

Turned out be a good idea. This year’s Christmas tamales were the best ever. I’m not kidding. Chile in the masa made for an interior sort of heat, the kind that comes from deep inside. And tastyyyy?! The kind of taste that you crave days after Christmas has ended and you wonder if anyone has Christmas tamales still tucked away in the freezer.
 
 
 
 

  

Tamales for Christmas, Mom’s tamales stacking up for the big holiday,
photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

tart and sweet

 
 
One of my favorite gifts for Christmas was a package of Sharpies in Caribbean colors. They remind me of tropical Jelly Bellies or Skittles. The kind of bright colors that people in island cultures use to paint their homes, although you never can tell since the sun fades the colors over time to a sort of Easter egg pastel palette.
 
 
I bought myself a new doodle journal, on sale at Anthropologie. I love that store; the buyers there have the best taste for eclectic and gorgeous furniture, bedding, clothing, shoes, kitchenware.

This journal has a full year’s worth of pages, each month a different color. The months aren’t labeled but the dates are—1 through 31, or however many days there are in that particular month. January is salmon, February creme, March red, April green, May yellow, June blue. The paper has little specs in it, like sun spots on skin. The freckles come out when you apply a marker to the surface.

A doodle a day, starting January 1. I can’t wait. In fact, I didn’t wait. For the first two blank pages, I already doodled. Real doodles, not the fancier drawings I tend to call doodles. I’ll still do those, but sometimes my own complexity—my desire to outdo myself—gets the better of me. Back to basics. (With a mango twist, of course!)
 
 
 
 

  

 
 
 
 
 

retreat, retreats, re-treaty

 
 
I recently became a member of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. I received the 2010 Catalog of Offerings and have decided to take two classes in 2010.

One I want to take with Jim. One of my intentions for 2010 is to share my passions with him. I seem to spend a lot of time in my own world, and while I’ve always appreciated the latitude my husband gives me, I also realize he’s open to exploring new things.

We had a couple’s massage on his birthday, and I’m always surprised by how willing he is to do things I might otherwise assume he wouldn’t want to do.

Don’t make assumptions, one of The Four Agreements®. I reflect on this particular agreement most of all, although all four are principles to live by.
 

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

 
Read The Four Agreements® again. Live them all year long.
 
 
This wasn’t meant to be a post about new intentions. Remember, I’m sitting in pajamas, chillin’. I guess the reflecting and looking forward are percolating, even as I cling to lazy days spent in coffee shops or movie theaters or my writing room.

The waning days of 2009. Another year. Another decade.
 
 
 
 

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Heart, Wonder(Woman), & Stained Glass Mandalas, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved


It’s that awkward time between end-of-December Holidays and the New Year. And 2009 was a hard year for many. I personally know people who were (and are) unemployed, those who have lost much of their life savings due to illness and no health insurance, a family with a loved one who died unexpectedly in her 30’s from an enlarged heart. They checked on her when she didn’t show up at the family Christmas party; the funeral was Christmas Eve.

But I also saw a heartwarming story where a man in Youngstown, Ohio named Jason Evans donated a kidney to Kimberly Smith, a 58-year-old woman who has raised 28 foster and adopted children, and a stranger to him, so that she could live. (He heard the call at a church service; she calls the kidney LJ for Little Jason.) And a segment on a woman named Jennifer Williams who gives back to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have been raped, tortured and mutilated in the Congolese civil war, by encouraging sponsors to pledge $27 a month and write letters in an exchange that transforms both women’s lives. Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women, has a personal mission to sponsor 1000 Congolese women.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Was it something you really wanted as a child? Was it handmade, a piece of art or jewelry, a family recipe box, dinner with friends? Did it cost money or was it a gift from the heart? We didn’t have a lot of presents under the tree this year but life feels abundant. We and our cats Kiev and Mr. Stripeypants have our health (Chaco died mid-year); there was good food on the table, Christmas ham and Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad; the Wonder Woman stocking stuffer (made by Magnet Dude) and Mandalas Stained Glass Coloring Book brought big smiles to my face.

Liz’s sister has a tradition of sending her a rock from Heart Mountain in Wyoming each time her mother visits or another Holiday rolls around. We have bits of the Heart all over our garden and yard. Each time Liz opens a new heart, her face is filled with wonder. There are cards that line the bookcase, some with checks or gift certificates, not to mention the pajamas and slippers from a pre-Christmas sale. Life feels abundant.

Maybe the greatest Christmas gift was watching a family from up the street (who we had never met) stroll through the neighborhood with their snowblower, digging out driveways from the Holiday blizzard. How neighbors joined in and walked along with them, helping the next neighbor dig out.

Or the young sister/brother team who knocked on our door Christmas Eve and offered to snowblow the driveway for $10. They came from a blended family of 7 kids and were trying to earn a little extra money. These are the gifts that keep on giving.

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Ode To Joy & Christmas Eve, snapshot of my art studio desk, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




savor the small things
the joy of writing haiku
in the dead of night;
the silence of snow falling,
calms the chatter in my mind


circumspect darkness
relative humidity
what matters to me?
seeing clearly with the heart
things invisible to the eye


Holiday blizzard
thank you for braving the storm
following footprints
of those who walked before us —
Joy hides in the strangest places




It’s the dead of night. I’m staring out the window at snow falling on cedars, oaks, and ash. A Holiday blizzard. I’ve always liked Christmas Eve almost better than Christmas. When I was growing up, I’d stay up way past the time when my five younger siblings were in bed, rocking in the leather recliner, bathed in the glow of firelight and candles. Some years the living room would be blue from head to toe, my mother’s favorite color, with a tree dressed in angel hair and the front door wrapped like a package with pine cones and ribbon. Do they still have contests for best door decorations?

I can smell Amelia’s fruit cake and rocks, ladles of egg nog, cloves spiking the Christmas ham. It’s the time of year when I count my blessings. I’m grateful for family, friends, and lovers, for blog partners and red Ravine readers, for puffy orange coats and wet mittens. Thank you for walking with us through murky and uncertain waters. Thank you for running through rain. And pausing in the darkness of Winter. There is so much joy in the silence.


Happy Holidays from red Ravine, December 24th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Poem For The Trees (Keepers Of The Light), A Few Of My Favorite Things, On Eating December Snowflakes, Tamales — A Christmas Tradition, Merry Merry, Happy Happy, A Partridge In A Pear Tree, A Christmas Gift From Dad, On Collecting Pigs Against Your Will

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By Lita Sandoval


Let’s just say that 2009 has not been my best year. I was laid off from my job in January. I accepted a position for another job soon after I was laid off and it turned out to be a terrible situation. I quit within three months. To add to the stress of finding a job, I got kidney stones twice, caught two teenage girls trying to steal my car from the driveway, and even had my garbage can stolen!

I am fortunate I have a temporary part-time job, which basically has saved my life. I make just enough money to pay bills and only have enough left over for a few extras. I’ve been thinking about how I am going to afford Christmas gifts for my family. I cut my list way back to gifts for immediate family only. My daughter also wants to give gifts to her friends—six of them.

I decided that I would make gifts for everyone. And I wanted my daughter to make gifts for her friends, too. Together we made jewelry for her friends. It was fun spending time together picking out beads and deciding which friends would like certain beads and colors. The whole idea of making gifts together was definitely cost effective, but what came out of that experience was a great bonding opportunity. It was also fun watching my daughter’s creativity explode. We can now check six people off the Christmas list!

My father helped me to decide on very special gifts I will be making for my sister, niece, and daughter. My father is always heavy on my mind during the holidays. He passed away seven years ago. The man was a fabulous cook. Family and friends still salivate when they talk about his amazing marinated steaks or his incredible paella. I thought it would be cool to gather all of his recipes, re-type them, put them in a beautiful box and give them to my sister, niece, and daughter for Christmas.

It has been an incredible experience going through those recipes! It was like going back through a time machine. I can look at a recipe and associate a special occasion with the meal my dad prepared. On many of his recipe cards, he wrote little notes that made me remember his wicked sense of humor. He named dishes after himself or altered the name of something that would incorporate his name.

Some of his notes were just cool, like the one on his paella recipe. He named it Paella Al Al. My dad’s name was Al and if you speak Spanish, you get the humor in the title. At the bottom of the recipe card it says:

Recipe from a restaurant at La Carihuela – a fishing village on the Mediterranean outside Torremolinos. 1984


While going through the recipes, I found one of my favorites: my dad’s Tequila Shrimp. I had never attempted to make this particular dish. I decided I would make the Tequila Shrimp and take it to a party I was invited to.

I used to love going to the grocery store with my dad and helping him find just the right ingredients for his meals. Going to the store and picking out ingredients for the shrimp dish with my dad’s very particular eye was important. I was excited to put it all together. I took out the special cazuela my dad gave me and took care to make sure the tequila shrimp not only tasted good, but looked good. I think I succeeded.

I hope my sister, niece, and daughter will think of my dad when they try out one of his famous dishes. It really is a wonderful legacy that he has left all of us. What better way is there to connect with family and friends than to sit around a table with a wonderful meal? And because I saw that my mom had her own little box of recipes, I’ve decided I must put hers in with my dad’s. Most of her best recipes aren’t written down, so we made a date to sit down and write them all out.

Needless to say, my stress of holiday gift giving has gone by the wayside. Jewelry has been made, recipes have been written out and precious time has been spent being with, thinking of and enjoying time with family. It seems as though my year has ended so much better than it started out.





Dad Grilling, photo of Al Sandoval (Lita’s father) grilling
steaks at home circa 1966, photo © 1966-2009
by Olga Sandoval. All rights reserved.







Tequila Shrimp

  • 2 lbs. cooked shrimp
  • 2 oz. Tequila
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 bay leaf broken up
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • Dash black pepper
  • Garlic salt to taste

Mix well and add to shrimp. Coat well. Add:

  • 1 lemon and 1 lime thin sliced
  • 4 pearl onions thin sliced
  • 1 cup black olives sliced
  • 2 Tbs. chopped pimiento
  • 2 roasted, peeled, chopped green chilies

Marinade in refrigerator for at least three hours.






Lita Sandoval is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a local blogger (currently on hiatus) known as Adelita—she made the top five “Best Bloggers” in Albuquerque the Magazine’s Best of City 2009, and for the past two years she’s been in the top three bloggers in the Alibi‘s Best of Burque—who writes about the funky hometown she affectionately calls “Burque” (pronounced boor-keh, extra roll on the “r”). She’s also a jewelry artist (check out her work at her Etsy shop, although she warns that she hasn’t had time to add much to it lately but will in the new year) and collector of many unusual things. Her teenage daughter keeps her on her toes, as do her rowdy dogs, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Etta James. Her favorite saying is, “Oh sí liar!”

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At The Labyrinth’s Center, BlackBerry Shots, Winter Solstice,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

bright Winter Solstice
Our Lady of Guadalupe
burns at the center

 
 
 
 

Post Script: Last night we broke bread at a Winter Solstice celebration with friends. Bear made an appearance; we burned last year’s Yule Tree. At the end of the drumming, a Great Horned Owl called out from over the pond through the silence. Last night was the first time people walked the labyrinth our friends created in their front yard over this year’s Spring and Summer months. It was a beautiful Winter evening. In the days before Solstice, they shoveled snow from the path; the way through the cairns was clear. What we didn’t know until we arrived was that Our Lady of Guadalupe glowed at the center. I’ll write more about the creation of their labyrinth in future posts.

 

Winter Solstice Fire, Walking The Labyrinth Solstice Night, BlackBerry Shots, Winter Solstice, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

-posted on red Ravine, Winter Solstice, Monday, December 21st, 2009. Happy Birthday Grandmama Della Elise. You walked through the circle with us last night.

-related to posts: Virgin Mary Sightings, Winter Solstice — Making Light Of The Dark, “K” Is For Kramarczuk’s, Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets, voyeur haiku, haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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get your resin on (three)

get your resin on (three), new resin bracelets by Roma Arellano (aka ybonesy), all photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
I heard a news report yesterday that said something to the effect of, The average shopper has only finished about half of his or her Christmas gift-buying thus far. Wow. That’s a lot of shopping to get in before Christmas. And only five days left to do it.
 
But guess what? We’re doing our part to help procrastinators in the Albuquerque area. Our resin group decided that this month, instead of holding our standard resin meeting, we’d throw ourselves a holiday art house party. We’re getting together tomorrow at the home of one of our members (thank you, Cecilia!) and inviting everyone we know to come and buy art at great prices. And visit, eat, and have fun!

So, in the spirit of getting the word out…
 

out with the old


I’d been fretting about not having enough time to build up inventory of late, but then it dawned on me that I have a lot of “seconds” I could sell at the art party. Resin is a persnickety material; it often leaves waves or bubbles. I had set aside all the pendants that I didn’t think were up to snuff for selling, intent on fixing them some day (since resin is also a forgiving substance; items can be re-resin’d). Yet the mistakes are the kinds that I notice more than the average bear. So instead of keeping all these seconds on my work table for eventual perfecting, I’ll be selling them at half off. Woo hoo!

I’m also going to sell off a few images that I have since decided to close out. In my first round of building inventory, I threw in everything but the kitchen sink; the truth is, I have more designs than I can keep up with. All those close-out pendants will also go for half off, which means you can buy items for as low as $6. Now, that’s what I call good and cheap.



tower of resin   get your resin on (one)

get your resin on (two)   tower of resin (two)





in with the new


Pictured throughout this post are new bracelets I’ve been making, many to give away as gifts for the women in my family (sorry to ruin the surprise if you’re one of those women). And speaking of women, the highly creative mujeres from the monthly resin group taught us all how to make these stretchy bracelets using small tiles in multiples.

Aren’t they cool? The bracelets are reminiscent of jewelry my sisters used to wear in the 60s and 70s. I love how you can mix and mingle found images with your own doodles to make new and wondrous designs.

Now that I know how to make them, I will continue to use more my own images and less found ones. I’ll have some bracelets for sale, mostly to see how people respond to them.

I also found a source for small wood mounts for making mini-wall hangings. I hope to have at least a few of those at the party.




          get your resin on (four)
                                                       get your resin on (five)





come on down



We’ll be putting up signs and balloons to lead folks to the art party, which is tomorrow, Sunday, the 21st of December, 10 am to 4 pm. I’ve invited Facebook friends in the area and will pester them and others with another email reminder.

I hope to see you there. You won’t be disappointed by the selection. (I mean it—these women are such great artists!)

By the way, QM, this flyer contains some of the fun public domain fonts I’ve downloaded of late. Reminds me of your post on Runes.









Oh, and next year, I know. We’re all going to try to have our shopping done at least two weeks before Christmas. Right? Right.



resin arm






-Related to posts Hey, You Got Your Doodles On My Scrabble Tiles!, When You Get Tired Of Scrabble, Take Up Dominoes, and Pendants And Charms And Milagros, Oh My!

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“K” Is For Kramarczuk’s, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We stopped at Kramarczuk’s Deli last week to take a few photographs after Christmas shopping. Wasyl Kramarczuk and his wife Anna traveled from the Ukraine to the United States in the 1940’s carrying hope and a dream. In 1954, they combined Wasyl’s sausage making skills with Anna’s delicious cooking and baking to create Kramarczuk’s. Today it’s a Northeast Minneapolis landmark (read more at the Kramarczuk’s website).

Northeast Minneapolis is one area of the city that still cherishes the neighborhood deli. After moving to Minnesota in 1984, I settled in Nordeast where I quickly got to know Kramarczuk’s Deli. In fact, for 20 years I got my hair cut in the vintage East Gate Shopping Center nearby that was torn down a few years ago to make way for a grocery store and high-rise.

What’s your favorite deli food? Check out Kramarczukl’s mouthwatering menu. I’ve had the Polish Sausage, the SauerKraut Dish, and the Ukrainian Meatballs. I love the Varenyky dumplings and the Borscht. It is hearty, stick-to-your-ribs food, perfect for the -0 degree December weather we’ve been having in the Twin Cities. Liz and I were drawn to photograph the mural on the side of the building at night. The letters in the side-by-side alphabets reminded me of our recent post on Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets.

And the Runes remind me of the Holidays and Solstice. Today we’ll be putting up our tree. On Sunday, we’ll be celebrating Winter Solstice at the home of our friends. I’m excited because they recently created a labyrinth in their front yard. Walking from Winter darkness to the green of Spring. What do you want to let go of? What would you like to carry into the light.



Kramarczuk’s – Since 1954, Kramarczuk’s Sausage Co. Inc., Kramarczuk’s Walldog Mural, Northeast – Making History Again, East European Deli – Old Kramarczuk’s Sign, Writing On The Wall, Kramarczuk’s At Christmas, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 19th, 2009

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It’s so quiet. Mr. Stripeypants is down by the reflective heater, listening to me type. When I think of my birth, I think of a young girl, my mother Amelia, only 16 years old. I think of Augusta, Georgia in the 1950’s, Broad Street, one of the widest streets in the world, window shopping, my grandfather hanging out at the White Elephant bar. My mother tells me I had a thick head of black hair and the photographs bear that out. One in particular has me sitting in my grandfather’s lap. He is smiling, I am smiling, in a frilly dress and patent leather shoes.

I once thought I was born out of wedlock but that was another erroneous belief. It wasn’t until a few years ago when Mom and I were talking about her relationship with my father (whom I haven’t seen since I was about 6 years old) that she told me she married my father first — it wasn’t until later that I was conceived and born. I had thought until that time that she married him because she was pregnant. Nope. That’s how I began to learn how important it is to ask all the questions you have for your parents while they are still alive. Their memories may be fading, but at least you will have their version of what happened right from the horse’s mouth.

I was born not long after my Uncle Jack drowned in Clarks Hill Lake. He was only 18. Another assumption I made was that people were sad when I was born, still mourning the death of my uncle. Mom was quick to correct me, told me how joy-filled everyone was when I came into the world. What was it like for a 16-year-old in the 1950’s to birth a child? My father wasn’t a good provider. So my mother left him when I was two and went to work to put food on the table for us. Once she started showing, they made her quit high school, something that would be unthinkable today. They also made her quit her job in the Boy Scout admin office because they thought it would not be a good example for the boys to see a married woman that was pregnant.

It does make me realize how far we have come as women since the 1950’s. I recently heard a woman speak who was a stewardess on Northwest Orient in the 1950’s. She’s written a book and they were interviewing her on MPR. She said they had strict height and weight restrictions on stewardesses and you had to periodically “weigh in.” She also said you had to wear your hair a certain way, could not have dentures or partials, or wear glasses or contacts. Can you imagine the uproar today if those kinds of restrictions were put on American women?

But back to my birth. My earliest memories are not until I am about 6 years old. But once I went under hypnosis and remembered my birth father throwing me up in his arms and catching me, a loving gesture. I was an infant, all smiles. When I think of my birth, I think of my grandmother, too. And wish I could ask her what it was like for her when I was born. My mother tells me that nursing was painful. It makes me want to ask other women if nursing is painful for them. I never hear anyone talk about it. Much like I never hear people talk about miscarriages.

There are so many opportunities for women to be shamed. Are they good mothers, do they nurse, have they miscarried — many things which are out of their control. Did they have a natural birth or was labor induced. All of this falls on women, women who become mothers. A few years ago, my mother and I tried to find her step-sister’s grave. She died shortly after birth and my grandmother had scraped together the money for a marker. It was a rainy Georgia afternoon when Mom and I wandered through the Babyland area of the cemetery and finally stumbled upon her overgrown marker. There was an angel engraved into the stone.

Mom pushed the grass away with her foot, umbrella in her other hand, and I snapped a photograph. It was one of my first ventures back to Georgia to dig up the family history, interview my mother and other family members. The journey has led to many emotional ups and downs, most good. I felt happy that we had found the baby’s grave. And wondered about the circumstances of her birth. My grandmother is no longer here to tell me. She was unlucky in love in her early life. But the last man she married, Raymond, was a sweetheart. I felt so happy she finally found a man who would be sweet to her, someone she deserved.

You know what’s odd? I more remember the circumstances of each of my sibling’s births than I do my own. I was 4 years old when my brother came home from the hospital in Tennessee. I was 14 when my youngest sibling was born. We remember more than we think we do. If the right question is asked, a jumble of strange seemingly unlinked thoughts and emotions pour through the mind and heart. And that only leaves you to wonder more — what will be the circumstances of my death?




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by ybonesy), and two Guest practices False Accusation, Almost Dying.

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Here’s what I know. Mom and Dad were living on Neat Lane in Albuquerque’s south valley. There were four kids at home, three girls and a boy. Larry had been the youngest, he was four, and Mom and Dad were hoping for a boy to play with him. That’s one of the details of my birth that I grew up knowing.

I also grew up knowing that I was named after my mom’s mom and that Dad hadn’t wanted to name me that but they’d run out of names. They’d named the oldest daughter Patricia, after mom’s brother Pat. The next one Roberta, after Mom’s other brother, Robert. Janet must have gotten a name that came with no obligations; just a name that Mom and Dad liked. Larry, or Lawrence—his must have been a name they liked, too. I can’t think of any Larrys in the family. And then when I was girl, they gave me Roma. And Mom always says that grandma was “tickled.”

Mom had me in a hospital. The old Saint Jo’s. Whenever we drove on the freeway out to Los Lunas, Mom would point off toward the new St. Joseph’s and say, “See the older building? That’s where you were born.” All these years I thought it was this really old building that is about two or three stories, made of thick granite stone that has turned a sooty gray. I had taken to pointing it out whenever we were near there and telling my girls that that was where I was born. But just the other day, when I took my mom to the new St. Jo’s to get eye surgery, she pointed to a different old building and said that one was the old hospital. “Well, what’s that building over there,” I asked. “Oh, that’s the old sanitarium.”

So all this time, the place where I thought I had been born was actually the old mental institution. It was a letdown to know that the old St. Jo’s was not nearly as old looking. It just looked like a lesser, worn-down hospital.

I do know that back in the days when Mom had her kids, they let mothers stay for three or so days afterward in order to recuperate. I imagine that must have been the calm before the storm. Back home, waiting, there were a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 12-year-old. Wow. Just tonight I went shopping with the girls for two hours and afterward, on the drive home, the girls were chatty and excited, and I had to say, “Hey you two, I’m a little overwhelmed so can we drive the rest of the way in silence?”

They were good about it, and so was I. Mom would have just screamed, “I can’t stand it anymore!” Poor Mom. Five kids is an awful lot to have.

That’s about all I know of my birth story. Everything fast forwards from there on out to when I got sick with the croup and the emergency tracheotomy. It’s funny, though. I can picture them coming back home with me. I think in those days moms held their infants in their laps in the car. I’m pretty sure Dad had a big car. I’ve seen a big car in the old photos. And I picture Dad and Mom walking into the small house they had, and all the kids being excited. I wonder if Larry was disappointed. I bet he was.

I think I slept in a crib in Mom and Dad’s bedroom for my first year, maybe two. I remember sharing a room with Janet, and did Larry share a room with us, too? I know the house only had a couple of bedrooms. Dad converted the garage into a den. There are a lot of gaps in my memory about the house on Neat Lane.

I don’t have a baby book, but we had lots of old pictures. I was in plenty of them, often being held up on Dad’s knee for the camera. And we have lots of old movies. Jim took them and had some made into a video for my parents’ 50th. Or was it for their 60th?




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey); PRACTICE: Do You Know The Circumstances Of Your Birth? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman)

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By Bob Chrisman


It was a dark and stormy night on May 3, 1952. I’ve always wanted to write that cliché opener. Flood waters had swept across the area around St. Joseph, but the Missouri Methodist Hospital was high on a hill. My mother delivered a healthy baby boy. The nurses told her that I looked just like my father because I had thick black hair and sideburns like my father.

I thought I was the second child. My sister was almost ten years older than I was and no one talked about another pregnancy. Had my parents not decided to go to the World’s Fair in Montreal, Canada in 1967, the year I turned 15, I would have lived and died not knowing about the other pregnancy.

Someone told my mother that we needed certified copies of our birth certificates to come back into the United States so she ordered a copy for each of us. They arrived one morning in the mail and she took the official looking, Manila envelope into her bedroom to open. I sat on the floor in anticipation of seeing my birth certificate.

She handed it to me and I read every entry. “Mom, my birth certificate is wrong. It says you have had two other children by live birth.” I showed her the line of the certified copy.

“No, it’s correct.” She walked to the chest of drawer and put the other birth certificates in the box where she kept all the important papers.

“Was the baby a boy or a girl?” I asked because the idea of a missing sibling intrigued me.

“I don’t remember. It was a miscarriage. Something was wrong with the baby.” She kept moving away from me and I was too enthralled with this new knowledge to let it go.

“But, how could you not remember?’

“It’s been a long time ago. I don’t remember anymore.” She walked out of the bedroom.

I let the topic drop because she wouldn’t give me any information. I didn’t take up the question again until years later when my mother, then in her 80s, wrote a short autobiography at my request. She mentioned the loss of a baby somewhere around 1946. My sister would have been going on four years old.

My sister doesn’t remember anything, but she would have been three going on four. My favorite aunt and uncle said they didn’t know anything about a pregnancy which seems hard to believe if the child was a live birth.

As I reflect on that lost baby, I wonder how that colored her reaction to being pregnant with me and to my birth. Maybe that accounts for the way she protected me against everything and everyone. I’ll never know the answers to my questions, which are a circumstance of my birth.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the third of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? — 15min (by QuoinMonkey)

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RUNES, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Yesterday we went to a book signing at Common Good Books. Jeff Hertzberg and Zöe Francois recently released their second book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The bread was delicious, the authors serious about their work, down-to-earth, engaging and fun. In casual conversation, it came out that Zöe knows Latin. I remembered that I had taken two years of Latin in junior high, a curriculum requirement in the 1960’s. That got me to thinking about language and alphabets.

After the signing, Liz and I did a little Christmas shopping and later went to the studio. I was looking at this set of Runes I made from clay a number of years ago. For a period of time in my life, I consulted with different oracles on a daily basis: the I Ching, the Runes, Tarot, Medicine Cards. I have a passion for learning about symbols in different systems of mysticism.

Symbols are used to create structure within a system, to help us understand complicated ideas with a simple visual. Over time, color has been organized into systems like Goethe’s Triangle and subsequent Colour Wheel, while chakras are symbolized by certain colors. Logos and brands (like red Ravine or ybonesy’s new logo) take their lead from symbols of yore. Graphic designers are always trying to create  innovative new fonts with which to drape old symbols in more imaginative cloaks. (Yet people still like an old standby because Helvetica remains one of the most widely used fonts around.)

I couldn’t find my Runes book last night or I would have drawn the Runes. But I did find an odd book I’d snapped up at a sale, an old Readers Digest Book of Facts. According to the Languages section of the book, all the alphabets around the world can be traced to a North Semitic alphabet that emerged around 1700 B.C. at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. From the Semitic alphabet developed Hebrew, Arabic, and Phoenician. Then Phoenician alphabet was adopted and adapted by the Greeks who in 1000 B.C. introduced a modified form into Europe.

The Greeks standardized the reading of written lines from left to right, added symbols for vowels, and gave rise to the Roman alphabet (used for modern Western languages) and the Cyrillic alphabet (named after Saint Cyril and used in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union). The North Semitic alphabet spawned the Aramaic alphabet which eventually developed into Asian alphabets, such as Hindi.

The earliest forms of writing are picture writings found on clay tablets in parts of the Middle East and southeastern Europe. Some of the oldest found in Iraq and Iran recorded land sales and business deals.

Where do the Runes fit into all this? They are a mystery. The Runic alphabet is one of the oldest in northern Europe with early examples dating to the 3rd century A.D. They have been found in 4000 inscriptions in Britain, Scandinavia, and Iceland but nobody knows for sure where they originated.

For some reason, the Runes remind me of the ancient celebration of Winter Solstice. Some scholars believe the Runes were derived from the Etruscan alphabet of southern Europe and brought north by the Goths after their invasion of the Roman Empire. To me, they are an oracle of mystery. And that’s what draws me to them.


Post Script: The bread baked by Jeff Hertzberg and Zöe Francois was delicious. Their new book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day looks like a winner with many whole wheat and gluten-free recipes. There’s a recipe for their whole wheat Christmas Stollen Bread in the post of their video interview at KARE 11. Or you can visit their website Artisan Bread In Five with fabulous photographs of mouthwatering baked goods. You will come away hungry for more!


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 13th, 2009

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By Anonymous


My stomach still tenses and my palms still sweat when I recall, and relive, a time I was mistakenly accused of something I didn’t do. Forty years have yet to erase the fear and confusion I felt the night my father woke me from my sleep while hurtling accusations and threats at me. In my half-awake state, it took me too long to realize what was happening, and when I eventually denied any wrongdoing, the timing made anything I said in my defense seem like a lie. That night was the fatal crack in the foundation of my father’s relationship with me, and one that was never repaired.

My neighborhood, once mansioned and gracious and occupied by physicians and factory owners with Southern manners, was still mansioned, but it was neither gracious nor well mannered. The expansive homes, far too large for a single family when they had been built in the late 1800s, had been partitioned into apartments during the Depression Years. Often four or six families lived in divided sections of the grand older homes on the street my family lived on.

When friends would drive me home from school or a party, they were always impressed by the looks of my house. Its exterior was certainly impressive, but I seldom invited anyone inside. I didn’t want to explain that my family’s apartment took up two rooms on the second floor of the stately house and two more rooms carved from attic space. I knew it wasn’t right to be embarrassed by my family’s home – it was clean and cared for, it had all the essentials – and yet at 14, I would rather have lived in an architecturally barren 50s ranch with no character. I longed to live in the neighborhood I tended carefully in my imagination – no ‘hoods gathering in the alleyway, no fist fights breaking out in the dim backyards, no strangers prowling in the hallways of my home.

I was a good kid at 14. The kids I hung around with were good kids too, all smart, ambitious, college bound. Instead of drugs or alcohol, we brought guitars to our parties and we played our music and sang. Not rock ‘n roll either. We sang our share of Beatles’ tunes, but we also sang “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Kumbaya.” We also protested the Viet Nam War, not by throwing rocks at store windows and setting American flags on fire, but by wearing MIA bracelets on our wrists, with earnest promises that we wouldn’t remove them until the soldier whose name was inscribed on our bracelet came home from the war.

On that pivotal night, the night of the false accusation, my father returned to the apartment late. He had been drinking. This was a major source of stress in my family, and I often was awakened in the middle of the night by my parents’ arguments in the next room. But on that night I became a major player in the drama.

I was startled awake by my father who came storming into my room. He began hurtling accusations at me. He claimed to have found a bag of marijuana in the garage he rented behind our house. He wanted an explanation. He wanted to know what else I was hiding from him.

I stammered my innocence, but he refused to believe me. Repeatedly he asked me what drugs I used, who gave them to me, what else did I do that he wouldn’t approve of. When he pulled off his belt and started thrashing me, I burrowed deep under my blankets, trying to hide from his verbal and physical assaults. I shrieked, one loud, hysterical scream.

He stopped hitting me then, and left as quickly as he had come in, and for much of the night I stayed awake wondering what had happened. I wanted to pretend it had only been a vivid nightmare, fabricated in my dreams, and yet, the night silence was punctuated by angry bursts of words from my parents’ bedroom. I knew it was not a nightmare of my creation.

I never saw the marijuana I supposedly was hiding. It was never discussed again.

There was never any resolution. That, I think, was the hardest part about the entire incident. The accusation remained a silent wall, thrust up in the middle of a single night, and never repaired or torn down. I think now, if we had talked about that incident, we might have lessened the damage it did to our relationship. But he was a man of few words when he was sober. He was not one for talking through a problem.

And so, with a wrong accusation, a father-daughter relationship was irreparably harmed.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This Writing Topic refers to three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each. A red Ravine reader, who wished to remain anonymous, also sent us a piece, based on a 25-minute Writing Practice on the second question, Have you ever been accused of doing something you didn't do?]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey),  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman); PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by ybonesy), and PRACTICE — Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by QuoinMonkey)

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owl

owl, pen and ink on graph paper, doodle
© 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.











owl on a high branch
spies the woman in her room
writing late at night














-Related to post haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Most of the things I’ve been accused of, I did do. Not terrible things. Normal, living day-to-day things. I once got into trouble for walking into the larger-than-life, under construction, sky barrel that would later become the water tank for the little subdivision I grew up in. I wanted to hear how it would sound to yell inside the green tank. Would it echo? Fall flat? I must have been only 9 or 10. I got in so much trouble when my parents found out. It scared them to know where I had been, what might have happened. I did it, I did.

I wish I could think of something ruthless or edgy that I’ve been accused of. Or even done. I can’t. I’m mundane, run of the mill ordinary. Yet I’ve done some extraordinary things. I thought about this topic while driving through yesterday’s snowstorm. The 35mph winds nearly blew the pickup off the road. At one point, I had to do three of those turn-into-the-curve corrections when I hit a patch of black ice on a freeway curve. Thank goodness no one was near me.

On a snowy backroad, I started to wonder what kind of people get accused of things they didn’t do. What about the American who recently was found guilty of murder in Italy for a crime she says she didn’t do. Is she guilty? Innocent? Who are we to believe.

What about Tiger Woods. Is he being accused of things he did or didn’t do? Are all those women lying? Or is it his wife. I have to admit, when I heard about the early morning jog off the road, the crash and burn, I immediately thought “domestic situation.” And wondered what he had done. I noticed he seemed angrier this year on the golf course, less focused, throwing his clubs around. No wonder. Who can keep all that pent up inside?

I don’t think I have the kind of thick skin it takes to be accused of things I didn’t do. Maybe it led me to play it safe. It makes me seem boring, even to my own self. Where’s the drama? Like I said, when I was accused of things, I often did them. Have I ever lied about what I’ve done? Yes, on occasion in order to get out of a messy situation. But not as a rule of thumb.

I’ve been accused of being quiet, moody, crabby, over-emotional, shy. I’ve been accused of being fearful. Are those things true? At times. When I was in second grade Mrs. Hamrick took a ruler, bent the palm of my hand backwards so the inside of my hand was taut and facing up, and slapped my palm with a ruler. She did the same thing to my friend Melanie. We were cracking up in class over the word “smelly.” It was the way Melanie said “smelly” that had me in stitches in the middle of class.

Should I have been accused of laughing too hard, too loud, too much? I don’t know. But I was. And the ruler stung. I rarely got in trouble, rarely got a spanking. Why was I so goody two-shoes? Always running down the middle line, playing it safe. I don’t know. I prefer to be accused of being the good guy than the bad. Yet I like the tough guy rebel reputation. That just doesn’t make sense. Nothing makes sense in the world of false accusations. Nothing makes sense in the world of truth. Everything is subjective, even the way facts are presented. I’ve been accused of being too detailed and long-winded. That’s a good reason to draw this practice to a close.

If I took the time to list all the things I’ve been accused of over the years that I did do, it would fill another writing practice. Most I’m not proud of. I’m flawed, human. I used to be a jealous person. I feel like I’ve dulled down in the area of personal relationships. And that’s where all the drama is. I don’t step in the mire as much as I used to when I was young and trying to figure out what made relationships tick. I crossed boundaries, stepped through quicksand, threw a few tantrums. “Throwing a tantrum.” Where do you throw one. Out the window, across the river, slithering through the psyche of a loved one?

Pitching a fit. That’s an old Southern phrase. I used to say it. I hear it still when I visit the South. “Don’t pitch a fit, Shug.” Or “She’s fixin’ to pitch a fit.” I love that phrasing. There is something more colorful about the Southern dialect. Descriptive and loose. Uncontained, visual. You can not accuse Southern dialect of being stilted or canned.

Have you ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Lawdy-mercy, no.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts:  PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman), and PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by ybonesy)

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I could probably wrack my brain and come up with something someone wrongly accused me of during a spat or a fight, but nothing stands out. In fact, I pretty much have done everything anyone ever accused me of. Maybe someone called me selfish, and I don’t think I’m very selfish at all. But you see, there’s always more than one side to a story. I might in fact be pretty selfish at times.

I once ran across some little gangbangers walking down the road. I got into a tiff with them. My girls cried in the backseat as I got out of the car and confronted them. They had slapped the side of my car as I drove by, as if my car were the rump of a big horse. It was summer and we had the windows rolled down. The gang kids were walking abreast, three of them, taking up almost my entire lane. Another car was coming down the opposite lane, and so I honked to get the kids to move off to the side. It was a slow road, normally 25 miles an hour, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t wait for the other car to pass and then drive around the kids, but when they glanced back yet stayed put in the middle of the lane, I inched so close that I almost ran over a foot. But I was going about five or ten miles an hour. I don’t think I could have hurt anyone.

They accused me of starting a fight with them. This I learned from the cop who I sic’d on them after I had a confrontation with the kids. They were two girls and boy. The girls were 15 and maybe 16, and the boy slightly older. After I got out of the car, that being after they slapped the side of the car as I inched by, we had words. I think I might have said, “What the hell did you just say???” I had heard something like “What the fuck?” as I drove by, probably because I almost ran over a foot.

There was a whole next part of the confrontation, where they followed me to the library, which was just a few yards from where I had first stopped the car, and I was feeling mean and strong, like the 16-year-old in me who’d gone to school with a bunch of pachucas was rising to the top, ready to go to blows if need be. I said a bunch of stuff that provoked them. I was mad that they were so damned cocky and stupid. And that they were probably going to waste their lives, acting too cool for their own good. My anger came out, and I remember feeling ready for a good fist fight.

And my girls were still in the backseat of the car waiting while I turned in my book, which, by the way, was To Kill A Mockingbird, which, by the way, I never read in high school or junior high but in my mid-40s. The girls were pretty scared, crying while they watched their mother walk by three kids who thought they were pretty tough, the boy was bouncing on his Pumas or whatever tennis shoes boys like him wore. And his bling were flying in the air, hitting his chest every time he went up and the bling went down.

Well, what I want to say is I probably did provoke that confrontation. I was in that kind of a mood, and when I drove away, peeling out so that the gravel under the tires of my car spit up toward them, I saw a cop sitting in his car just around the corner. I pulled up and told him that there were some delinquents by the library. Later, when I saw the cop again and asked him how things had turned out, he said that they accused me of saying a bunch of stuff to them and starting the whole thing. “Oh, really?” I said. And then he told me, “Yeah, but who was I to believe? A middle-aged woman with kids or a bunch of delinquents?”

I kind of felt bad for them just then.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey); and PRACTICE: Have You Ever Been Accused Of Doing Something You Didn’t Do? (by Bob Chrisman)

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By Bob Chrisman

It would strain the imagination of anyone to believe I have escaped false accusations in my long life, so I won’t try. Early on, the world taught me that attention and praise attracted mean and nasty comments from other people. My life’s goal became to blend in with the world around me, to not stick out. That never worked for me.

The song, This Little Light of Mine, from my childhood Sunday school keeps running through my mind. The lyrics tell us to let our lights “shine, shine, shine” and never “hide it under a bushel.” I tried to hide my light, but I might as well have tried to hide the Sun. Took me almost forty years to raise my light. I admitted to myself that I couldn’t dim the brightness.

One consequence of shining brightly is being accused of doing things I didn’t do. High profile people make easy targets for unhappy foes. I know lots of people. I know lots of things about lots of people. I know lots of secret things about lots of people. They’ve told me their secrets. As a result, I’m sometimes the first person who comes to mind when someone feels betrayed because one of their secrets got out.

First, a secret is something that not more than one person knows. Secrets lose their secret-ness when two or more people know. If you want to keep a secret, don’t tell anyone else.

The most hurtful thing I have been accused of doing was telling a secret I didn’t even know. The person confronted me with my alleged indiscretion. “How could you tell him about that incident?” he demanded. “What reason could you have had for divulging that embarrassing information?”

“But, I didn’t even know about that situation. How could I tell anyone else?”

“You liar. I’m giving you a chance to come clean. How can you stand here in front of me and lie to my face?”

I toyed with the idea of admitting my guilt, even though I hadn’t told. Then I could throw myself on his mercy. I wanted to remain friends, but I hadn’t done anything. I repeatedly denied any part in telling the secret.

“You aren’t my friend anymore.” He ended the drama by stomping out of the room and slamming the door. We haven’t spoken since that confrontation.

Later I learned that he found out who told the secret. That betrayer and the betrayed forgave and forgot. They remain friends to this day. Sometimes knowing that bit of information hurts more than the false accusation.




-Related to topic post WRITING TOPIC – 3 QUESTIONS. [NOTE: This is the second of three questions mentioned by actor and writer Anna Deavere Smith in an interview with Bill Moyers (see link). She talked about the questions in the context of interviewing people and listening to them. The three questions came from a linguist Smith met at a cocktail party in 1979; the questions were, according to the linguist, guaranteed to break the patterns and change the way people are expressing themselves. QuoinMonkey, ybonesy, and frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman take on the three questions by doing a Writing Practice on each.]

-Also related to posts: PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by ybonesy), PRACTICE: Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (by Bob Chrisman), PRACTICE — Have You Ever Come Close To Death? — 15min (QuoinMonkey)

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