#2 A Room with a View

I wake up slowly this morning, groggy, disoriented. I lie quietly for several minutes to get my bearings, and then open my eyes and sit up. I slept hard last night, dreaming active dreams that were peopled with the faces of long departed loved ones, beloved pets, friends…many I lost decades ago. My dreams were active and continuous and in most I was traveling along rivers and oceans, up and down mountains, floating through the heavens, spinning through a hallucinogenic mishmash of colors, sensations and emotions.

I am still a bit groggy, disoriented and sleepy. I look around the room. To my right I see a futon that doubles as a couch and as another bed and a small chest of drawers.

On the left wall is a closed doorway that I know leads through a small closet to the bathroom, with a chipped sink, leaking toilet, and broken tile. I hear the shower running. To the right of the doorway, along the wall, is a rickety entertainment center that houses an old analogue television set and beside that is a linoleum counter top sitting atop a small refrigerator and cabinet. A microwave oven sits above the counter top on open shelving that shows a limited inventory of mismatched plates, pots, and drinking glasses.

Directly across from me is a large sliding glass door that spans almost the entire width of the room except for an area to the left where the small kitchen sink sits. A square table with three chairs stands in the middle of the view. If I open the sliding door and step outside to the small balcony, I can look out beyond the swimming pool and parking lot, over the sand dunes and the waving sea oats, across the craggy driftwood forest and see the ocean, with its gentle, rolling waves, lapping the shoreline as it deposits its debris of starfish, scraggly seaweed, broken shells. I am on the second floor of an old house that has been divided up into a fourplex that is managed by the old rundown motel right next door.

The last time I stayed here was at the end of the summer of 1985. My mother was coming for a visit and wanted to go to the beach. When I called to make the reservation, the manager told me, “Hope you don’t mind, but you’ll be the only guests here that week and the last guests we house. The very next week the bulldozers come in and level the whole place. It’ll be some new expensive condominiums next time you come out this way.” My mom and I had a wonderful time.

I was 27 years old and had finally gotten through the most painful parts of a divorce from a man who had been demeaning, abusive and who had managed to squash my self image to a place of worthlessness. Enough time had passed that I had gotten back some confidence, gained some perspective and was taking some positive steps to rebuild my life.

My mom was 54 years old. Our relationship had been a little strained after she ended her 26 year marriage to my Father. Not because I had a hard time accepting her decision, but because she had become a person I could not recognize as my mother. On past visits, I had a hard time relating to her.  On this trip, she had finally settled down a little and I could see some bits of my mother in her. We were still mother and daughter, but we had begun to forge a new woman-to-woman relationship. It was the last time I saw my mother so happy and the last time I could bask in her unconditional love and acceptance.

The very next Memorial Day, my older brother died in a motorcycle accident, on a remote stretch of Alaska’s scenic Seward Highway. There at the turn off to Hope, Alaska where the road makes a deep curve, my brother hit the curve too fast, swung out into the other lane of traffic and hit a truck head on. The attending paramedic told me at my high school reunion a few days later, “It all happened so fast, he never knew anything.”  His body was cremated and on my 28th birthday we took his ashes out in a fishing boat from Seward Alaska to Thumb Cove and spread them in Resurrection Bay.

Turns out, I lost two people that day. For when my brother died, my mother disappeared into a deep abyss of grief and mourning and I never saw her smile again. Later that fall cancer wrapped its tenacious tentacles around my Mom who was stranded in the abyss and a year later we made another trip to Thumb Cove with my mother’s ashes.

I stand up from the bed and walk over to the sliding glass door. My 56 year old self stands at the window, gazing out at the gentle waves, the careening seagulls, thinking about the day ahead. I hear the door open behind me and a voice, “Rise and shine sweet Jujubean. The day’s waiting!” I turn and smile into my mother’s eyes.

A Thousand Acres

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This was the second time I read “A Thousand Acres.” So many years had passed since the first time I read it, I didn’t remember many of the details of the story. But as the story enfolded, it all felt very familiar to me.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but the story is so sad. The book starts up slowly – the author spends much time building the setting, describing the characters, and does a great job describing the family dynamics. Around the midpoint of the book, everything starts falling apart for the families that are central to the story. It is compelling and heart breaking to see how the family’s carefully crafted façade begins to fall apart as the characters and family ties implode and eventually collapse.

Running Again

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I laced up my new Brooks Ariels and took Gracie out for a run on this beautiful Spring evening.

Gracie and I are in the habit of walking 3 miles a day after walking most every day for the last 3+ years.  I’ve lost a lot of weight and I’m feeling much stronger. Now I’m ready to push myself, work on my cardio vascular fitness and firm up my body. It’s been a long time since I tried to run and tonight’s run was exhilarating!

I’m not particularly interested in running races – most of them are overpriced and crowded and I don’t need or want any more ugly tee shirts. I don’t want to injure myself (or Gracie), so I’m going to take it slow and easy. I have nothing to prove. I just want to run for the joy of running. I want to feel fit and good about myself. Tonight was a good start.

Long Hair

About two years ago, I decided to grow my hair. I wasn’t sure how long I’d let it get but I thought I’d grow it out until I didn’t like it, or I felt it aged me, or I thought it was too hot, or I thought it was just too much of a hassle, or until it just stopped growing. After a while it got to the “too much of a hassle” stage and so I cut off 4 inches of it.

Then, last summer, after reading about the concept of abandoning shampoos altogether, I tried out the “no poo” method of hair care. I didn’t like using the recommended baking soda & vinegar rinse in my hair, and just rinsed and conditioned my hair regularly . I went 3 months without shampooing my hair and it really wasn’t a problem… my hair did not look oily and it didn’t smell bad. But after 3 months my hair started feeling waxy around the roots and on my scalp. So I started using a gentle shampoo again, but now only shampoo my hair about every 7 – 10 days.

Concurrent with my “no poo” experiment I essentially stopped blow drying my hair and using curling irons or hot rollers on my hair. I can count the number of times I’ve used heat on my hair in the last year on one hand.

I’ve discovered that these changes have improved my hair’s condition by:

  • Greatly reducing the fizziness
  • Bringing out some natural body that I never knew existed there – I always thought my hair was super straight and had no body in it.
  • Eliminating split ends

I’m really delighted with my hair. Oh, and it hasn’t been this long since I was 13 years old.

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Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels: Current Reading List

049 MiddlesexI started reading Pulitzer Prize winning novels in April 2009, with a goal of reading all of the winning novels.  I am working my way through the list, reading a Pulitzer Prize winner about every 4 to 6 weeks. Let me know if you’d like to join me!

I’m Currently Reading: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I plan to finish it by 11/15/2015.

Continue reading Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels: Current Reading List

Douglas County Chamber Singers

 

2014 / 2015 Concert Season

August 19, 2014 @ 7:15 pm – Rehearsals resume for the 2014/2015 Concert Season

September 20, 2014 @ 12:30 pm – DCCS sings at September Saturdays at the Courthouse

November 23, 2014 – Messiah Sing-A-Long CANCELLED

December 12th – Christmas Concert

March 20, 2015 – Spring Concert

 

Pulitzer Prize Winning Novels I’ve Read

18052I started reading Pulitzer Prize winning novels in April 2009.

Here’s a pictorial summary of the Pulitzer Prize winning books I’ve read over the years.

2015 Reading List

049 All the Light048 His Family047 Ironweed046 Lamb in His Bosom045 A Thousand AcresSo BigCaine Mutiny

2014 Reading List

Empire FallsForeign AffairsRead: 8/10/2014The Gold Finch038 Grapes of Wrath037 Collected Stories KAP036 The Executioners Song

2013 Reading List

035 confederacy-of-dunces034 Lonesome Dove033 Orphan Masters Son032 Arrowsmith031 Martin Dressler030 All the Kings Men029 Now in November

2012 Reading List

028 House Made of Dawn027 Laughing Boy026 A Death in the Family025 One of Ours024 Alice Adams023 The Fixer022 Killer Angels

2011 Reading List

021 Interpreter of Maladies020 A Visit from the Goon Squad019 Gone With 3018 shipping_news017 Stone Diaries016 The Hours015 Jamie McPheeters

2010 Reading List

014 Advise and Consent013 Tinkers012 To Kill a Mocking Bird 011 Color Purple010 A Summons To Memphis009 Breathing Lessons008 Confessions of Nat Turner007 Good Scent from Strange Mountain

2009 Reading List

006 Guard of Honor005 Elbow Room004 Keepers of the House003 Olive Kitteridge002 Gilead001 Oscar Wao

Biking in & around Douglas County, GA: The Silver Comet Trail

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Biking on the Silver Comet Trail is a wonderful way to spend the day with family or friends. 

Starting in Smyrna, GA, the Silver Comet Trail spans over 60 miles, running through Cobb, Paulding and Polk counties.  By the end of summer 2008, the Silver Comet Trail will connect to the Chief Ladiga Trail at the Georgia/Alabama state line, extending the trail another 100 miles and terminating in Anniston, Alabama. 

The Silver Comet Trail is a great place to ride, walk or jog.  The paved, mostly flat trail, spans some beautiful and scenic vistas and you can ride as far as you want without having to worry about cars.  (The picture above is looking West from the Hiram, GA trail head)

Continue reading Biking in & around Douglas County, GA: The Silver Comet Trail