Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Mr. StripeyPants’

DEC SHADE4

Say Goodbye To Tungsten Light, Golden Valley, Minnesota, December 2011, photo © 2011-2012. All rights reserved.


I burn the Christmas lights long after the day has passed. The soft warm glow of tungsten soothes me. I grew up on film photography, old school, and loathed florescent and LED. Say goodbye to tungsten; the last 100 watt bulb rolled off the DEC 2011-12-18 19.40.22assembly line in December 2011. We lost poet Ruth Stone in 2011 and singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow. They leave behind a rich legacy–their poetry. We lost Hope, the world’s most famous black bear, to the long arms of a Minnesota hunting season. Did they choose their lives, or did their lives choose them?

Goodbye December, January awaits. I look forward to the New Year. In setting goals for 2012, I can’t help but think of the things I will leave to 2011. I never heard back from my father, yet I feel glad I wrote the letter. It is one less thing I have to wonder about. Mr. Stripey Pants had surgery on Monday, December 12th. Bone rubbed on bone in his lower jaw when he chewed his food. We tried to be upbeat that morning, saying he was on his way to breakfast at Tiffany’s (the name of his surgeon). A few weeks later he is almost back to normal. The scar tissue that had formed around a puncture wound near a back tooth has been removed; it was not cancerous. I am grateful for good vet care and the resources to pay for it.

Minnesota leaves behind the 86 inches of snow from last Winter, an unfair trade for the tawny grasses and 50 degree days in the Twin Cities last week. I don’t miss the shoveling, but wonder how the Art Shanty Project will take place on Medicine Lake in January. Where is the frozen Minnesota tundra of 2011? I leave behind a broiling sweaty Summer where I did little gardening. The cedars look limp and brown. Fall 2011 was 1323477165415one of the driest on record. Rain, rain, come and play, don’t wait another day. I have grown to miss the rain.

I leave behind a year of no travel, unusual for me. My large extended family lives in Pennsylvania and Georgia, so I often plan vacations around flying back East. I missed visiting with them. In 2011, I attended no out of state writing workshops. I did not take a vacation outside of Minnesota. There was one trip to North Dakota, but not for pleasure (though it had its moments). I leave behind all the angst and sorrow created by the greed and selfishness of others. You sometimes learn the most about people when things go awry. It’s not over yet. The law requires patience, and the resources to carry through over the long haul.

Dear December, there were days you left me nostalgic and somber. But I vow to enter 2012 with optimism and gratitude. Long line for A Christmas Story at Riverview!I will long carry the joy of my brother’s visit to Minnesota the week before Thanksgiving. I carry two healthy cats, Kiev and Mr. Stripey Pants. I carry the love of a caring partner, close friends, and family. I carry excitement at the prospect of celebrating Liz’s birthday in January, and a trip to Wisconsin for a self-propelled writing retreat in February, what used to be the dead of Winter. I leave behind anger, resentment, regret; I release what is no longer helping me be the best person I can be. What people, places or things do you leave behind?

The pantry is stocked. The black-eyed peas soak in the pot, ready to bless the place I call home with good luck and cheer. I am grateful for those who stick with me in times of uncertainty. I am grateful for those who come to the aid of all HOLIDAYsentient beings in this world, not just humans. I am grateful that we do not inhabit this planet alone, that there are ancient burr oaks, Southern live oaks, slithering snakes, hairy spiders, playful black bears and white winter squirrels. I am grateful that the decisions that matter most are not left in the hands of humans.

December, I say goodbye to you tonight with gratitude and anticipation. I am thankful for your rituals. It’s the night before the New Year. What will my yearly practices be? It will be around the last fire of 2011 that I choose goals for 2012. Thank you, December, for having the courage to let go.


-posted on red Ravine, New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2011

Read Full Post »

What's Under My Fridge - 297/365

What’s Under My Fridge – 297/365, BlackBerry 365, Golden Valley, Minnesota, October 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


On October 17th my brother had his third liver transplant. By all accounts, it is a miracle. And something that’s hard to wrap your mind around. It all began with a text: 10/17/2010 @ 9:48am — they called me with a liver. going to Philly now. Will let you know if they will be doing the operation. I’ve been trying to write a piece about it ever since. Eleven nights have passed; the day to day ekes away energy and time.

If you put all the days together, well, that’s a lifetime.

We think we can prepare for what lies ahead, try hard to be in control. Sift, collect, let go, wait. Sift, collect, let go. Wait. Yeah, we spend a lot of time waiting. The best laid plans fall hard. Somewhere between collect and let go, there are surprises. Laundry spins, rattling the floor, defying gravity. Water and fire boil, cooking spaghetti for dinner, but only as fast as the barometric pressure will allow. No amount of wishing can make the dust bunnies go away.

You would think that would be disappointing. You would be wrong. Vacuum under the desk, behind the piano bench, above the paper towel holder. Slide the giant green bottle brush under the fridge again and again and again. Thick rolls of cotton batting dust slide easily over freshly mopped floors. But what are those brilliant points of light, gleaming stars through the Pigpen fog?

Exactly 26 Mr. Stripeypants balls. Silver, gold, and the primaries, blue, red, green and yellow, lost to the swipe of the mighty Pants paw. He loves the small ones with the soft sparkling spikes. He would keep me playing fetch for hours every morning if I didn’t grab the purple lunch pail and fly out the door, late for work. Liz has a big heart for the animals. She carefully peeled and plucked the dust off of every tendril, washed each felt ball with warm water, and sat the bunch on the counter to dry.

Life can change in an instant. You can’t come back the way you came. It’s the simple things that make the day. They are as big as the miracles that make me a believer. In something bigger and better on the other side. Are there dust bunnies in heaven? I like to think they hop to a different beat.

My brother came home from the hospital on Tuesday, Frankenbelly 3 in tow. His 4:25 text said: on the turnpike – ETA 6:45 to 7:00 PM. I’ll eventually write the piece about his transplant. Tonight culminates in the midnight ramblings of a harried woman….and a plane ticket to Pennsylvania. ETA November 9th, 11:28am.


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, October 29th, 2010 – 1:45am

-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — MY REFRIGERATOR, yellow sock haiku

Read Full Post »

He Who Keeps Me Company – 54/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, February 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved.


It’s March 1st, 2010. Sixty days and nights have passed since I began the BlackBerry 365 Project. Day 54 landed on this shot of Mr. Stripeypants keeping me company on a less than perfect day. I was reading Mary Karr’s memoir, Lit. He was taking a nap beside me, simply being himself. I felt like I really saw him.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big commitment — taking a new photo each day and posting it in a public forum. I had been exploring taking photographs with the BlackBerry since last October. It was so much fun, I decided to turn it into a practice. That’s when the work began.

Pushing through days when I am under the weather, low energy, or uninspired are the hardest. But once I get the shot posted, I feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal. I know from past practices of writing, mandalas, and haiku, that yearly dedication to a craft can take you a long way. It can also drive you crazy! I thought I’d check in at the 60 day mark and let you know how things are progressing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from the BlackBerry 365 Project:


  • As soon as I make something a practice, resistance kicks in. It’s all Monkey Mind. The trick is to not think too much, to simply keep going. Don’t force the shot, let the image appear.
  • Using the camera phone takes the pressure off to snap the perfect photo. It fits in the palm of my hand. I can have fun with it, photograph and post images I might not let myself publish with my Canon.
  • Themes appear and reappear in the photographs, just like in my writing. I keep coming back to what I love and have passion about.
  • Knowing I have to post a photo at the end of the day changes the way I look at the world. I am awake to all the possibilities. Everything I see is an opportunity.
  • Taking BlackBerry photos reminds me of the old days of 60-second Polaroids. I take snapshots of my day, glean ideas for new projects, visit places I want to go back and shoot with the Canon.



There are many photographers and artists who have embarked on yearly projects of daily images. And writers who have daily practices that keep them going through the lean times. I’d love to hear insights from others who are willing to share their experiences. And I’ll check in again along the way.

Going forward, I’ve decided not to post daily images in the red Ravine comments. But I’ll continue to check in on the original post once or twice a month. If you’d like to continue to follow the yearly practice, I’ll still be posting each day in my BlackBerry 365 set on Flickr. And in the Twitter widget on our sidebar. Just click on BlackBerry 365 to take you to Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Day 60, Monday, March 1st, 2010

Read Full Post »

Ms. Kiev: She Who Rules The Roost, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s been a long week. Except for the house noises, it’s quiet as the wind. Liz went to the hardware store to buy a new shower head. For the first time this week, I’m alone. It was a hard week. I felt sick on Tuesday but went to work anyway. After becoming a national statistic earlier this year, for the last few months I’ve been driving a truck, delivering parts to machinists to be electropolished, drilled, deburred, picking them up again. It’s Saturday morning, a sacred time when I can actually catch up on reading my own blog.

Weekend hours are sweet. I promised Kiev during her morning ritual with Liz that I’d post a photo of her. She’s the only cat in our family who hasn’t made it to the cover of red Ravine. (Mr. Stripeypants was published for his support of Obama; we lost sweet boy Chaco this year.) I was sitting on the couch, writing. Liz called me on the BlackBerry from the bedroom; I picked up to hear her whispering that I should come and see the cats. I tiptoed in and took these camera shots. Family time.

The first photograph is alpha cat Kiev in her favorite position. Liz places her arm just so; Kiev curls up in the crook, same position every time. I have discovered that Kiev is difficult to photograph. She is jet black and her catty panther features all blend into night. I guess I need one of those umbrella reflectors. I do the best I can.

How do you spend your days and nights? What are your weekends like? Do you take any downtime, time to do things you can’t get to during the week? Or are you retired, off of work, and every day is the weekend for you. It seems like when I have time, I have less money. More money, less time. Where’s the balance?

In catching up on red Ravine, I see that Bob was moved by Anna Deavere Smith in our Writing Topic — 3 Questions. Our guest Buzz explained some of the nuances of basketball banter in his poetry post Hoops. ybonesy wrote about art as play, community art, something dear to our hearts on red Ravine. The renga has heated up in the Daily Haiku. And we made April plans to go to Lake Pepin in the Midwest writing group I am a part of.

I’m relieved to know that even though I feel dead beat at the end of my truck driving day, the creative world goes on around me. And sweeps me along with it. I’m grateful for that.

For Christmas, I may ask Liz for a pocket protector and a few cotton work shirts with my first name stitched above the pocket, but I’m still a writer, a photographer, an artist. Still full of wonder at the animal track flannel sheets in the photo behind Kiev. Making a living as writers and artists isn’t easy. All of you make it easier. Thank you for that.


Morning Rituals, Mr. Stripeypants: Paw Over Hand, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 5th, 2009 with gratitude to Liz who holds up the other half of the sky, my family and friends who check up on me, and Roma, the best blog partner a woman could ever have

Read Full Post »

Gone are the syringes, the pages and pages of charts we logged, the droppers, prescription foods, and red plastic “discarded needle” container with the skull and crossbones. Gone is the hook over the kitchen sink to hang the IV bag; it was made out of an old tent stake. Gone are the alcohol swipes, 15-cent 18 gauge needles, extra towels, warming bowls, and bags of IV hookup tubes.

Expensive medications crammed into limited cupboard space have disappeared. The thick blue folder of Chaco’s veterinary receipts has been filed away. Last week we made a decision to donate the 10 remaining bags of .45 saline IV fluids (from the case we had special ordered to give Chaco’s subcutaneous fluids at home) to the Humane Society. Liz said she would drop the case off after work. She came home on Thursday and handed me a copy of the following letter:


_________________________________________________________________




Chaco S. was born February 22nd, 1996, adopted from the Golden Valley Animal Humane Society in April 1996, and passed away on June 25th, 2009 after a brave battle with kidney disease.

He left a huge hole in our family and will always be remembered dearly for his big purrs and head bumps.

We are donating extra bags of saline in his name. They kept him going near the end and we know how valuable they can be.


Peace, love and purrs,

The S-H Family
Liz, D., Kiev & Mr. Stripey Pants


__________________________________________________________________


This is why I love Liz. She had typed the letter up, added Chaco’s photo, and given it to the woman at the desk of the Humane Society who thanked her profusely for our donation. The intake person was simultaneously talking on the phone to a woman who had lost her cat and advising her of organizations she could contact to help her with her search.

In the short time Liz was there, a woman came in crying because she had to give up her cat. Her husband handed the carrier with their beloved pet over to the intake coordinator. Another man was at the desk to surrender a cat he had taken from a friend because he didn’t want it to be put down; it didn’t work out. He tried to explain. There is no excuse the Humane Society hasn’t already heard.

People desperately trying to find their cats; people desperately needing to get rid of their cats; people grieving the loss of their cats. And I haven’t even gotten to the dogs yet.

The woman at the desk said she would tape Liz’s letter to the box of IV fluids so they would think about Chaco whenever they grabbed a new IV bag for an animal in need. I appreciate the work of caring individuals who volunteer their time to sanctuaries, independent animal shelters, and organizations who care for animals society has tossed aside. There are 81.7 million cats and 71.2 million dogs owned in America. We need to help out wherever we can.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 9th, 2009

-related to posts: Chaco’s Creature Comforts (10 Cat Care Tips), From The Earth, Back To The Earth , Winter Solstice — The Quiet Strength Of Bear, Life Of An American Green Tree Frog, Children Helping Children (And Animals)

Read Full Post »

Simsonized, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Simpsonized QM, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I do kind of look like this photograph. That’s Kiev up on my shoulder. She’s upset that I’ve done three posts about Mr. StripeyPants (“Pants” for short) and have yet to upload one photograph of her sleek and furry self. (If it pleases the court, we’d like to submit the following items into evidence: Exhibits #1, #2, #3.) I’ll have to make restitution next year.

Liz was playing at the Simpsonize Me site one day and I leaned over her shoulder just in time to take a slow walk through Springfield. The website’s been around a while, but if you haven’t tried it yet you’ll need Flash Player and a clear shoulders-up photo crop.

ybonesy’s still a bit groggy from her trip to Vietnam, so I guess a little self-indulgent play won’t hurt. Here are a few of my favorite things. Strange as they may be — they are all mine.



1. Answering The Phone, “Dunder Mifflin this is Pants…” — any The Office fans out there? In last week’s Moroccan Christmas episode, Meredith’s hair caught on fire. And Dwight Schrute was selling bootleg dolls during the Holiday party. It’s a must see.

2. Porcelain Sinks — Not partial to stainless steel in sinks or tubs. I like the tactile, white brightness of something more organic, and would rather hear the thump of dishes on porcelain than the clank of a glass on stainless steel. I do like brushed steel in microwaves, refrigerators, and stoves.

3. Cool Eyeware — I didn’t wear glasses until I was 42. I try to make the best of it. This year I bought a pair of squarish red Ray-Bans. I also like the way people look in glasses. I wonder if that’s because they look more writerly to me.

4. Woofle Jelly Cake — Hmmm. Ran across the recipe Mom sent last year for Ada’s Jam Cake with homemade preserves. More to come on that one later.



 

5. John Coltrane Playing My Favorite Things, Circa 1961 — John Coltrane with his band in Baden-Baden, Germany gets a 5 star rating from me. To view in widescreen, click on the link and it will take you over to Astrotype’s YouTube page with John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, Thelonious Monk, and more.


John Coltrane – soprano sax, tenor sax
Eric Dolphy – flute, alto sax
McCoy Tyner – piano
Reggie Workman – bass
Elvin Jones – drums


You can read about the life of John Coltrane in his biography in Rolling Stone or at JAZZ, a Ken Burns film on PBS.



My Favorite Things, written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, was first introduced by Mary Martin in the original 1959 Broadway musical production, and later sung by Julie Andrews in the 1965 film adaptation, The Sound Of Music. It has become popular around the Holidays for the winterish theme and upbeat tempo.

I can be found humming it around the house. And you might, too, after you hear Coltrane play it. Are there songs that get stuck in your head this time of year? What are some of your favorite things?

 

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.



A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A Walk Through Springfield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October  2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 14th 2008

Read Full Post »

Happy Birthday, Mom, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Happy Birthday, Mom, Amelia & Jack in 1941, Georgia Memoir
Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.



It’s my mother’s birthday. She was born November 10th, 1937 in the eighth sign of the Zodiac, Scorpio. I miss her and have fond memories of jumping out of a giant cardboard box and surprising her last year (due to the generous and loving nature of my siblings, their spouses, and extended family).

I love this photograph of Mom and her brother, Jack. She is 4 years old. I have found that in many of the family photographs, she is often by Jack’s side. The handwriting on the back is probably my Grandmother Elise’s. I can’t be completely sure, but I think I recognize it from past letters.

To Grand Dad From Jack and Amelia
Jack is 5 and Amelia is 4

Cryptic words and numbers on the back of old photographs are as meaningful to me as the image. And I imagine a relative taking a few minutes to scribble down names, ages, places, dates, that in the future become invaluable to me in piecing together the past.

The year Amelia was born, the Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco and 200,000 pedestrians were the first to walk across it. In 1937, the first social security payments were issued by the U.S. Treasury, Wimbledon was first televised, and inventor Sylvan Goldman introduced the shopping cart. It was also the year the Zeppelin Hindenburg exploded at Lakehurst, New Jersey, and the first animated feature film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered at the Carthay Circle Theater in Hollywood.



Happy Birthday, Mom, photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.To Grand Dad - Amelia Is 4, back of a photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Happy Birthday, Mom, photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.To Grand Dad - Amelia Is 4, back of a photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I have always loved the name Amelia. It reminds me of Amelia Earhart. I never thought to ask Mom if she was named after the famous aviator. Amelia Earhart’s plane disappeared on July 2nd, 1937 near Howland Island in the South Pacific. Mom was born 4 months later.

I feel fortunate to have spent time with my mother in Georgia the last few summers: visiting with relatives we hadn’t seen in 10, 20, 50 years, excavating family history, honoring the past. It made me even more aware that many of the details of our history will leave this Earth with her. I want to mine as many of her memories as I can; it has brought us closer.

So, Mom, thanks for putting up with my endless questions about the past. (Ask any of my friends, the questions never end! I guess I’m the curious type.) I’m sorry if my card is late (it takes 4 days to go by snail mail from Minnesota to Pennsylvania and I forgot the pick-up wasn’t until 1p.m.!) And thank you for all the support you have given me over the years, especially around my writing, always encouraging me to follow my dreams.

Happy 71st Birthday. I miss you today, and wish I lived closer to home and could take you out to dinner. I’m grateful for every moment together. And in the times when I can’t be near — I have my memories, enriched all the more by ones you have shared with me.



     To Grand Dad - Amelia Is 4, back of a photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  To Grand Dad - Amelia Is 4, back of a photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

To Grand Dad (Amelia Is 4), handwriting on the back of a photograph of my mother, Georgia Memoir Series, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, November 10th, 2008, day of my mother’s birth (and also the birthday of Mr. StripeyPants who is 11 years old today!)

-related to post: November 5th, 2008 – ybonesy’s father is a Scorpio, too. And we were recently sharing with each other how much we enjoy being able to share old family photographs and history with each other on red Ravine.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »