Thursday, January 29, 2009

Falling, Flying & Fast Cars

"Faster, faster! We want a new Master!'
The kids voices chimed out like they belonged on a Pink Floyd album or something.
They were on the Merry-Go-Round and an older boy was running Sambo circles around and around, pushing them as fast as he could.
His legs looked like a blur to those of us on-looking. I thought they might turn to butter.
Still, the spinning children just wanted to go faster and faster.

I think, every town has a road called Dead Mans Road, or maybe it's just a bend in the road and they call it Dead Man's Curve. Passerbys may notice it by the small white crosses popping out of the ground.

This town had one on the outskirts heading out towards the mountains. It was two lanes, curvaceous and hilly. I never saw any white crosses, but I had heard the stories.

There was one super hill and it was known for sending fast moving vehicles air born at the crest. Problem, according to the lore I had heard, was that shortly beyond the crest of the super-hill was a relatively sharp curve... and it was a favorite strip for the youth to race down.

Tommy had an old black BMW that he was constantly tinkering with. I don't recall what the shut off number was on his speedometer, but I can remember laughing and telling him that I had never had a car that went as fast as this one. He laughed and said with a childlike gleam ...'Silly thang. The speedometer only tells you half the story'

Booking down the road...before I knew the lore, we caught the wind under that BMW cresting the super-hill. I lost my stomach for a split second ...'Woo-Hoo! That was fun!'
'That's Dead Man's Hill, Dead Mans Curve or whatever you want to call it.'

The next day, headed to the shoals, Tommy smiled over his shoulder at me and asked if I was up for the ride of a lifetime.

I smiled, 'Whatchoo tawkin' bout? Ah, never mind...I am along for the ride'

'Buckle up baby.'

I watched the speedomoter rise higher and higher, shaking. 110..120...130...140. Then it stopped shaking and it leveled out beyond the point of reading & still we gained speed.

The engine hunkered down and I could feel the tires barely skimming the paved road like the furthest flung skipping stone across steady waters.

AS we neared the crest of Dead Man's curve, I did something perhaps the dumbest thing I could have ever done in such an 'along-for-the-ride' moment.

I unsnapped my seatbelt.

'Mark was hollering out at the top of his lungs...We're gonna do it Man! Donnie, this one's for you brother! We're gonna do it.'
Tommy pressed on...
and we flew...
to the top of that hill...
and into the air...
the tires free of all friction...
the air, our only fiction...
my palms pressed firmly to the roof of the car...
no revving of the engine...
for the moment...
and when we kissed the earth again, we all breathed again
and then we hooted and we hollered.

Later, at the shoals, when our adrenaline rush was all but forgotten about...
Tommy spoke softly 'Paige, you scared me earlier. Why did you undo your seatbelt?'
'Because life is for living Tommy. '
'Huh! Yes, and if we did man, you didn't have your damn belt on!'
'I know.'
Mark chimed in ...'If we had landed just an inch to the left or the right...girl, you just don't know! We could have wrecked and you, well crap, you would have probably have been killed...WTH were you thinking?!'
'Guys, come on. I was along for the ride & you said it was the ride of a lifetime...'

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Brother-love, the Train Ride & Strangers

An empty checking account and a crisp one hundred dollar bill in my Levi's.
She drove me to the gravel lot in the woods by the tracks.
I wondered out loud 'Is this right? Is this where I am supposed to be?'
"I'm telling you....This IS the station."
'It's weird. No-one is here. There's not even a building...hahahaha, the lot isn't even paved. Hell, there's not even a light out here.'
"Welp, there's the moon.'
So we played eye-spy man-in-the-moon until dark-forty-five, when a barreling train suddenly came to a standstill in the middle of the woods.... for me.
It was dark and quiet and an usher escorted me to my dank little seat, where I remained for maybe five minutes.
I tugged my backpack over my shoulders and cruised the ill-lit cars until I came into the club car. It was nearly empty so I just scooched into a four-top that had chairs on 3 sides and a car-long bench on the fourth side. I lit a cigarette and pulled out my book, but found myself shaking one foot and staring into the smear of darkness out the windows.
I put the book up and went to the lonely tender of the club car where I got myself a can of Budweiser...two bucks plus a dollar tip. Three bucks would hopefully serve as a sedative for me.
Then, I slid out a frayed deck of cards....tttttthhhhhhhumpppppp.
A solitaire game taught to me by my mother as a kid.
A pyramind of hearts and diamonds, batons and spades.
"One is the lonliest number that you'll ever do"
'Excuse me, do you mind if I play cards with you?'
'Um, sure!'
'Great! Next beer is on me!'
'Hey! That sound great!'
We began with a simple and silly game of Go Fish and two cold beers.
"So, tell me your story..."
"Two can be as bad as one It's the loneliest number since the number one"
Before long, another transient asked if we would mind if he joined in and my original partner was quick to respond 'No'll cost you one round of beer and you will have to tell us your story'
So now there were three of us, three cold beers, and we moved onto the game of BlackJack.
"Three is a magic number...The past, the present, the future...Faith, and hope, and charity ... The heart, the brain, the body... Ya it is, its a magic number"
Oh, but it didn't take long for our table to swell and with each additional soul came one round of cold beers and a fresh round of 'Tell me your story.'
After the club car quit serving, the attendant said he left one door open and he pointed to a small fridge with hooks and a swiveled padlock, unlocked. I smiled. 'Now, just don't get caught back here, okay?'
Behind that small door was six cold beers, a bowl of creamer, a single packet of coffee.
We made that last six pack last as long as we could and somebody asked for the story of me about the same time we broke into the java.
Yeah, I was drunk and silly by then. I was all mushy.
"I am loaded, I have the love of my life and I am still totally free..."
"What do you do?"
"I live. I laugh, I learn and I love..."
"Wait a minute...your'e loaded? What do you do for money? Does your old man have money?"
"Hahaha, no....I'm loaded, as in I am drunk but I have discovered I love you guys, all of you... so different, so special, so gifted in your own ways, and right here, right now you are the love of my life. I'm free to say that, to feel that way, right?"
"Yeah" "So True" "Wow, I feel the same way" "Damn, you got a point"

At about a quarter to five in the morning, the train came to a standstill at my destination... I hugged the fireman from NY and the cop from Tampa, the comedian from Atlanta, the accountant from Boca and the transvestite from Miami...and well, anyone else who wanted to hug.
My brother stood waiting in well-lit landing.
I greeted him with a big ole hug and he laughed, as the guys back on the train were all hollering out to me...
"What's that all about?"
"Hmmm...I think its all about the love."
"Yeah, well, strangers and the love"
"Are you drunk?!"
It took us about thirty minutes to get back to his place and he told me how he would blaze on to work and I could sleep all day, but he would be home by four.
He pulled his truck into a space facing the tennis courts. At the courts, I saw two guys playing tennis in the rising sun.
Getting out of the truck, I raised my arm and waved "Good Morning Strangers!"
"Good Morning" echoed right back to me.
Brother-love went into work & I brewed more coffee, breaking out my Crayola markers.

At about ten am, there was a knock at the door.
It was the two strangers playing tennis at daybreak...
They were headed to the shoals at the river...
They are only strangers until you get to know them...

Five days of planned vacation with my brother turned into five and a half weeks with brother-love and an ever-expansive circle of friends, strangers and loves...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

As you can tell from this old torn, stained photograph... she's a natural beauty.
But her beauty is much too deep for any skin to contain.
She knows me unlike any other person, she knows my core and I trust her more than any other living being.

Her love & support is as unconditional as life & death itself.
Her determination could push an oak tree across the front yard.
Her wisdom eases pain & dances with pleasure.
Her strength carries the strongest of the strong through rough times.
Her thoughtfulness inspires family, friends & strangers alike.
Her motivations are good at heart & her own generosity is humbling.
Her sense of humor leaves tears in your eyes.
& her ability to cry without making distorted faces is amazing.
She is so much more than just my Mom, I know...

She raised us to know the things she values & to value the things we know.

I Know I Absolutely Love, Adore & Admire this Woman... Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Flowers, Books and Covers

Judging books by the cover.

Long, skinny hair & a waif-like body
A reserved demeanor with liberal smiles
make-up? probably not.
hand-me-down levis' and a faded peasant top
home-made hippie beads & a long leather chain
wooden beads and open toes
slowly sipping on an ice cold beer.

Clink! Tink! Clash!

Lips painted the same color as her nails.
face freshly powdered
hair short & well groomed
eyes bright with a reserved smile
gold on gold & definitely no leather
pressed shorts & closed toes
fingers from both hands wrapped around a wine glass


'So, what do you want to do when you grow up?'
A quick flip of the hair and a pixies wink over her shoulder
'Sellllllll flowers?' Sarcasm, the nectar of her words

The corners of my lips curled up into a smile.
I was an adult, at the time in my thirties.
And, I'd been down this road before.

'No, but funny you should say that....'

Silly woman...
I guess she didn't know not to ask questions that you don't want answers to & that a true hippie would simply give you a flower...

(Hippie art, of course, by Sister Singleton;)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A wanna-be-woodland-fairy and her ever-so-devoted mangy beast gathered sticks in a tried and true tin dragonfly bucket while the moon played peek-a-boo-I-See-you-even-if-you-can't-see-me on the damp earth... But she could see it there, the magical grandfather kicked back, relaxed like the knotty roots of the grand old oak were made to be his hammock & eventually his slingshot out from cold and dampness and she knew that this moment, like the ones before and the ones to follow... however trivial, however significant... were meant to be. Peace at her feet & love all around...

Okay. So maybe I would really rather be a pixie than a fairy, but I do have an ever-so-devoted mangy beast who will gladly roam the streets with me, regardless of the hour and we did gather a bucket of sticks for the fire and we did find yet another grand-father in the dim moon-light and once again, it did remind me that I am one lucky girl.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Peace Signs

I should have known...
I should have known last night when I walked in the front door and a crystal cognac fell from it's perch
or last night when I was lugging firewood in and a two and a half inch flying roach tried to escape the mound of wood in my grasp by seeking shelter on me.
I should have known when Smokie was overly demanding of attention & Vilulah was overly withdrawn.
I should have known when I dreamed of showering and having the water back up to my ankles with black dog hair floating on the surface, with which I felt all I could do was scoop it up and throw it onto an old newspaper spread out on the floor.
I should have known when my car broke down and I had to get her to the shop and call a friend to come fetch me this morning.
And I should have known when I got back and heard an abrupt slam, only to find that a storm window had collapsed.
And I damn sure should have known when I heard a hissing sound, just to discover that despite the fact that I left all my spigots and faucetts dripping, my pipes had burst.
My house, my dogs, my pipes, my windows, my crystal, my dreams, even the bugs in my yard were telling me, warning me, prepping me...
so when I popped open my mail... I knew.
But it's all good.
I had scooped up the palmetto bug and threw him outback to the wood pile & I had swept up the shards of crystal.
I left the window at 3/4's respecting my houses wishes for fresh air.
I had the car repaired and have done my best to fix the busted pipe...we'll see how she does in the AM.
I have loved on Smokie until he was tired & lured Vilulah out of the corner.
Then, I finally dropped the mail in the trash.

Walking past my palm sized heart shaped rock I found on trash day, I thought about how fortunate I truly am.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heart Shaped Rocks

Maybe you can see it, maybe you can't.
But I was racing the trash out this evening before the man comes in the AM (when it will be ten brrrr....degrees out) and the sun was dipping down.
In the dusky light, I saw it glowing bright white...
down in the ground...
at me feet...
little things mean the most ...
and everything means something...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Strangers on the Black Asphalt

Sometimes standing on the black asphalt and sometimes sitting, bent at the knees where he rested his elbows, he held onto his cardboard sign.
Sometimes I would see him walking up the overgrown hill behind the gas station using his makeshift sign as an umbrella in the rain.

Oliver once found one of his old discarded signs and brought it home to frame.

'Veteran. Homeless. Need Heart Surgery. Will Work Fore Money.'

Oliver said that the extra 'E' in 'Fore' , the water-logged cardboard dried by the sun & the roughly torn edges was an artistic reflection of our American culture.

One day the Sheriff came knocking on the door. He wanted to know when we had last seen the old man with the sign. It had been an unusual cold & snowy spell, so it had been a few days.
Shortly thereafter the maintenance man told me that he had found the homeless man in the electrical shed & he had apparently died of a heart attack.

Nowadays, there is a man who frequents my exit ramp with his dog & his cardboard sign. Several months ago, I took him a collar and a leash. More recently, I passed a doggies sweater and collapsible canvas dog food bowl to him. I could have taken him many more dog supplies, but instead I have a cardboard box in my trunk, within which I keep a forty pound bag of food and a scoop.

I have seen him...
crawl the hill and into the woods behind the gas station.
I could give him a lot more.
But to give him more than he can carry would be to give him a burden.
Sometimes the weight of one's own shoulder's is heavy enough...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sister Sing Psychedelic Sun

Some Sunshine for Me, Mel and anyone else who needs it...
May we all be kissed by the sun soon!

(compliments of Sister Sing & her beautiful hippie art!)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Barefoot Boots & Sandbar Bound...

Sister Sing and I sat on the phone to the wee hours of the night...
singing Love Songs to one another...
dreaming up the best barefoot beach boots a girl could own...
laughing until we had tears streaming down our cheeks...
making our little dreams into realities...

"some people want to fill the world with silly love songs..."

We agree.
Life is too short and...
Life is too long.

Yep, we totally agree.
We can't afford to do what we want...
but we can't afford not to.

Barefoot boots and festival dresses...
tambourines and sand dollars...
tan-lines and laugh-lines...

An island of ten days...
Escorted by the Heron...
Reminded by the Cardinal...
Gifted by the sand-dollar...
and the doves that lay inside

Peace & Love ... it is a sand-bar
and it waits there for me
for Kimbies and Sing...

Digging our toes right in...
Peace & Love...

Monday, January 05, 2009

Red, Rust & Spread All Over

I don't know why we had a gallon of red enamel paint in our garage.
Perhaps it had been left by the renters before us, along with an old dust-bunny covered , leaves weaved into the spider webs rusty, encrusted old brush old brush.

I never paid it too much attention...other than noting that it was there, pushed up to the narrow strip of wall that divided the single garage doors on our old double garage.
I don't know why I did what I did, other than it felt like the thing to do at the moment.
Maybe, I was just bored or maybe I was inspired.
I plucked all the webs and bunnies and age-dried leaves out of the brush.
I shook that can with the weight of my entire body.
I pried the top off with the handle of a dinner fork
and looked as the rust dust as it fell atop the crimson paint.
I wandered into the yard and found an old oak stick, with which I stirred the bucket of love up.
Bows and Arrows.
One Letter.
Two Words.
Every symbol as BIG as me.
Perfectly centered.
Filling the canvas of our double-wide driveway.
Splattered ... Plastered... Tagged...
It was all good...
"Skinny N Timmy"

Mother was livid when she returned home from work to see my handy-dandy graffiti proclamation of LoVe. Of course, the Florida sun had quick dried the permanent paint. Still, she had me scrub with a scrub brush and turpentine and I can remember that scrub brush eventually disintegrating, but red-etchings from that bucket of love remained for the tenants that followed behind us... May the Circle Remain Unbroken.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Morning has Broken...Happy New Years

Sister Sing has always, always, always said that how you break your New Year in is a pre-flection of how the New Year will be for you.

  • Many Mexicans believe that eating 12 grapes at for each month and examining their flavors, one bt one, will give you a taste of what each month in the New Year will be like.
  • In Venezuela it is not uncommon to write down all of your wishes for the New Year and burn them at midnight.
  • Most Europeans believe that noise will chase away bad spirits away & therefore the streets and houses can be very noisy on New Years across Europe, especially in France.
  • The French also believe that the first person to enter ones home in the New Years symbolizes what the New Year will be like for the owners.
  • Some Puerto-Ricans spreas sugar around the house and yard for good luck in the new year.
  • Breaking bread for prosperity is an old tradition in Poland and in the Phillipines it is believed that a table full of colorful fresh fruit will also bring prosperity.
  • The Japanese will decorate their homes with paper garlands, symbolizing good luck & happiness, believing teh decor will chase away bad spirits.
  • The Danish save their broken dishes and throw them at their friends door. In the morning, the more dishes you have, the more fortunate you are.
  • Burning Juniper branches in the Netherlands is thought to bless the house with good health.
  • Brazilians believe that the color you wear on New Years indicates the blessing you will have. White is common for peace & good luck, but rumor has it that many were wearing yellow this year, hoping for financial blessings.
  • They also believe that if you light candles that the marine goddess will see them & grant you your wish.

When I awoke this morning, the amber glow of one little candle was still burning... The dogs were mellow and affectionate... The sun was bright and warm, but the breeze crisp and cool... The coffee was rich and the company, even richer... Morning has broken...
Peace. Love. Happy New years to all.

Cat Stevens...Enjoy!