Monday, December 28, 2015

Word of the Week - 95

Word(s) of the Week:  THINGS WE ARE NOT

Our size or shape.  Our infirmities.  Our diagnoses.  Our age.

Our income or material possessions.

Our pasts, our wounds, our disappointments.

Our previous unwise choices.

Among the usual suspects.

One-hit wonders.

Over the hill.


Made of starstuff.

There are days when I honestly feel that the size of my feet may be a crime against humanity.  Same for the way I seem to order (?) my life by piles, my tendency to procrastinate, the slow speed at which I move.  I am not, you are not any of those things, regardless of the fact that they do exist.  That is all they do, exist.  They are not us.

There is a tendency among most humans to view our flaws (by our definition) as being, at best, only slightly less horrendous than a rip in the space/time continuum.  We are fully capable of punishing ourselves for varying from an ideal.  The parts of us that show carry most of the blame.  Likely we  have been struggling under those burdens for a lifetime.

What we are is capable of learning to love, with mad passion and without reservation, ourselves.  It is no longer acceptable, not that it ever was but that didn't stop us, to go picking about with tweezers and dental probes among the moments and incarnations of our pasts to find the hurtful, humiliating, couldn't-you-just-die parts and feasting on them.  They happened, they are not us, we are not them.  Exposed to time and the elements, even granite turns to dust. 

No matter what there has been, each morning delivers a new day.  Each of those days carries us further from the past.  It is so much harder to shine when we labor under our own imagined shadows.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The sisters and brothers throw themselves into Christmas, part 2

As long as there was someone at home, the girls insisted that any and all Christmas lights be turned on regardless of the time of day.  So it was that they crafted beneath the softened glow of a treasured old Santa, putting finishing touches on the now highly adorned crackers for tomorrow's table.

With one of her favorite holiday magazines beside her, should she need inspiration, Ambulancia sniggered and snorted at the photo of an impossibly lavish cracker, saying in her poshest voice, "Oh, Ree, did we include the Faberge eggs in the crackers this year?  I may have forgotten them.   We'll need to start over."  Her sister answered, "Yep.  Forgot them.  I guess they'll wait for next year."  Snigger, snort, heh heh.  "A witty motto, plastic charm and, my favorite, the paper hat, will have to do.  I love when we all have on our hats.  Nobody thinks they're too silly to wear.  We know the best sports, don't we?"
NOT the sisters' Christmas cracker.
"Will you ask our Dad if he's ready to take us to deliver presents?" the older sister asked Ellington.  Unlike the girls method of, no other word for it, bellowing from room to room, the Garrick brother went and found Mr. Charpentier in his den and asked if he was ready to drive them around to exchange gifts with their friends.  "Yes!" he told him.  "Yes.  And then a tour of the neighborhood lights after, how does that sound?"

"I feel a bit selfish," he told Ellington and Henri, who had joined them, "having the company of you guys while your parents have to be off in the Black Hole of Calcutta or some dismal place without you at Christmas.  Lucky us, I wouldn't trade."  His genuine kindness, his enthusiasm for having the fellows to balance all the female influences on every matter, always made the brothers feel they were as good as at home.

Turning off the lighted decorations, Mrs. Charpentier rounded up all the siblings, each carrying a small, paper-handled bag of presents to be dropped off.  The first year their father asked if they needed a ride to their friends' houses, the girls clapped with delight.  They also jumped, just a bit, and may have let out a shriek.  Christmas was so much fun.

With the mysterious packages, some of which were exceedingly lumpy, patterned paper wrapped around the contents like a second skin, exchanged, following rather extended chats on front porches and some familiarly shrill exclamations, all were back in the car.   It was officially Christmas eve, the sun had set and lighted trees filled front windows on every block.  Following their tradition, they stopped to get hamburgers to eat en route while they rode through the evening, visiting their favorite neighborhoods, the ice cream family's mansion lit up brighter than a Hollywood premier, the towering deodar trees beneath which all cars drove with headlights off.

"I remember the first time I was able to fall asleep on Christmas eve," Mrs. Charpentier said.  "I was so disappointed when I woke up.  I felt as though I'd lost Christmas, I'd lost the child I had been.  But I was wrong.  She's still here," she laughed.  "You girls and your father helped rescue her from having to be too grown up."  She blew kisses toward them all.  "Thank you," she said.

"Being able to fall asleep when it's Christmas," Sireena said, "I can't even imagine.  How awful that must have been for you."  Her mother nodded.

As they wound their way home, the children examined the presents they'd been given and thought of what they would do before going to bed as late as possible.  One thing they loved to do and not just on Christmas eve was lie on the floor under the tree in the darkened room and look up through the branches at the lights and the way they were reflected by ornaments and tinsel.  It seemed like a wishing place, a fairy place of pine scent and candles.  There would be carols playing softly and everyone knew, not just believed but knew, that the best things were entirely possible.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The sisters and brothers throw themselves into Christmas

Vintage Christmas ephemera.
Episode One

"The trappings of Christmas must be perfectly executed," Ambulancia declared to all within earshot, which included passers-by who looked up, startled, and quickened their steps.  "I know perfection when I see it.  I just can't say ahead of time what it will look like."  This bit of last-minute holiday drama concerned traditional crackers presented to each guest atop their dinner plate at the Christmas table.  While her mother suggested the manufacturer's decorations were quite festive and would disappoint no one, Ambulancia, joined in protest by her sister Sireena, insisted on what she referred to as "tarting them up" with trimmings that would render them extravagant works of art.  Nothing less would do.

Once again, tulle became a material of choice, along with double-faced satin ribbons, gold German Dresden trims and ornaments, Victorian scrap images, sequins, glitter, cotton batting fruit and birds and additional bits of scissored crepe paper.  Fortunately, the girls always created in their room, their atelier as they called it, so the already tidy parlor with its slightly strange but mostly wondrous tree would remain undisturbed.

As had been the case at Thanksgiving, Ellington and Henri's parents found it necessary to be "away" at Christmas, some muttered explanation about a distant, aging and slightly gaga relative or some precarious businss assignation in a wintery, remote locale which, they were sure, would cause the boys hardship.  It was no hardship at all to stay over with their best friends for the entire vacation. They rolled up their sleeves and tested the glue guns for readiness.

Though it may have seemed to the untrained eye that the sisters procrastinated, plunging into last-minute flurries of holiday preparations in general, that was not the actual truth.  They had made all their gifts weeks ago, wrapped them, helped decorate the house, baked, gone to the movies twice with the brothers and eaten lunch in a downtown coffee shop.  They were not idle nor forgetful.  it was simply that when Ambulancia opened the box of Christmas crackers, she felt her heart sink just a bit and could not bear to think of that happening to their guests.  "Presentation," she exclaimed.  "Delight the eye, create anticipation.  Much of Christmas is anticipation.  We will not disappoint."

To be concluded on Christmas Eve.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Word of the Week - 94

Angel by Anatoly Timoshkin.
Word of the Week:  LUMINOUS

Aglow with an inner light, achieved in paintings with great skill.  Achievable in life by finding a brave and gentle and loving path through whatever a day holds.  A lifetime's work and no easy task. 

In a recent dream, most of which is forgotten, a long-time friend referred to me as luminous.  I could think of no compliment I would treasure more.  Aspirations of luminosity.

To be the beam that reaches darkest corners, to be a source of warmth for any spirit too long in the cold, to illuminate, to brighten, to carry or be the lantern so that others aren't left behind, that is what this Timoshkin angel suggests.  Serenity, contemplation, knowing. This week brings the year's longest night, when we all might wish winter on its way.  It brings memories of childhood Christmases when, as now, the lights were what I loved most.

May we continue to fan the flames in each other and ourselves, keep the fires lit against all that would have us fearful and lost.  Especially together we are so much greater than the dark.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Word of the Week - 93

Gustavo Aimar illustration.
Word(s) of the Week: HIDDEN RECESSES

Waters for which there are no charts, roads without signposts, sealed rooms, locked chests, diaries written in invisible ink, we, like the Tardis,  are much bigger inside than we appear.  We are stewards of realms real and imagined, explorers for the ages, inventors, students.  What I know to be true for me is that I make it up as I go along.  How could I do it otherwise when each moment brings new possibilities?  I gobble up information, ideas, images and offer them a home within.  We are capacious creatures, our castles of self containing too many rooms to count.  For whatever knowledge we seek or skill we wish to master, there is space.  We cannot outgrow a curious mind, a questing spirit.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

An angel for any occasion

There is much fun to be had with color pencils and rubber stamps, a joy for all seasons.  Experiment with color combinations.  I would be happy, not to mention quite lovely, in a sky blue dress with orange flowers.  Stamp is from RubberMoon.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Word of the Week - 92

A bride's red shoes.
Red platform shoes from the 1940s.
This was the indicated link.
Words of the Week: IN DREAMS 

As I've mentioned before, I don't feel that making other people hear about our dreams would qualify as good manners.  Therefore I won't tax you with the dream narrative,  other than to say a friend took a group of us to a hodgepodge of a book store and before any of us could leave we each had to buy at least one pair of red shoes.

Even if only in theory, no longer so much in practical life, I have an abiding love for red shoes.  In a happiness hierarchy for manufactured objects, they might top the list.

I can only guess at the workings of the mind when suddenly overloaded with information impossible to digest, to process.  What I can say is that the past week brought (as of this writing) two nights of dream movies that warmed and gladdened me, that restored balance when we'd all been tipped overboard, that gave me what felt like real time spent with a friend I see too seldom.  In addition, I was offered the delight of red shoes, tucked under counters all over the dream shop, the Easter egg hunt-style search for the right pair or two, an enormous squash that held pages to a mysterious manuscript and the fact that I was, as I always am in my dreams, younger, stronger and much more able-bodied.

What I assume is this, based on no scientific evidence at all:  rather than shut down in a state of no-thought, my mind, and possibly yours, took me by the hand on a Lewis Carroll adventure to places where the nonsensical made sense.  It took me to spend time with favorite people and things, safe places, sunny or happy or curious places for which I was absolutely present.  If there is some over-arching order to our lives, my sleeping mind drove the getaway car that rescued me from the latest unthinkable events and delivered me to a version of home, home for the heart where I wasn't teetering but steady, from which I could step in the day not fearful but comforted.  Wearing new red shoes.