Sunday, December 29, 2013

Parrots in Egg Tempera

Three Parrots
Egg Tempera
I painted this last night during a bout of insomnia with homemade egg tempera paints made with pigments from France brought to me by daughter and son-in-law.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Biker Buddy (Keith)

Biker Buddy
egg tempera on "artboard" (cardboard)
I made the paint from French earth pigments and egg-yolk.  My daughter brought the pigments home from France. Keith was talking to a friend and not sitting still.  I did not make a sketch first, but just painted right on the artboard with the paints.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Landfill Harmonic Movie

I totally love this!!!  It made me cry!!!  (I don't usually post these things, but couldn't resist this one!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

From the book I am working on for Frankie

On a bright red caboose
watercolor on watercolor moleskine
click image to view larger

Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Goose                                      
and their friends Aloysius and Frangelica Moose     
And two herons who complained their stockings were loose
all rode together on a bright red caboose.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that I can get this done in time for Christmas.

Complicated Giving

I used to give fairly freely, when I could afford to, to street people, buskers, Salvation Army and so on.  I carried spare change for that purpose.

Then I met Sange Sargent.  Sange was an electrical engineer with a very well-paying and satisfying job. He volunteered at the museum where I worked, taught workshops, helped with wiring.  He was an attractive young man.  But around Christmas time, he grew a scruffy beard, let his hair get long and messy, took vacation time from work, wore battered old clothes and stood out in the old playing his harmonica on a street corner.  "I make more money doing that than working," he said.  "During the Holidays, people are eager to give."

Maybe I was misguided, but this made me angry.  It seemed to me to be wrong, unkind, dishonest and deceitful.  People thought they were helping him.  And other people who really needed help might not be getting as much.  I don't know about other people, but when the money I've put aside for helping is gone, I walk by the next petitioners I encounter without helping.

I now not only liked Sange less, I also mistrusted other street people.  Especially when the same women told me the same lie day after day.  I know it was a lie, because she said she'd run out of gas on her way to pick up her children at school and nothing like that had ever happened to her before.  Only it happened every day!  She was so stupid or stoned that she didn't recognize that she telling the same lie to the same person (me) every day.

And the guy who begs at the corner of Moross and Harper has a sign that says "homeless and hungry, please help."  But he lives with his mother near us and she feeds him well.

Down in the city center, "homeless" men charge to let you park on the street at meters--you have to pay them an extra $5 so they will watch your car and protect it.  If you refuse, there will be damage to the car. And so many people approach you, get in your face and insist on having your money and telling you how much they want and are so strident about it that it becomes frightening to walk down the street.

I've become less generous after these experiences and I don't like the way it makes me feel.  I'd like to give to help people who really need it or to do something valuable for the community.  I want to choose how much I can afford to give and when, and not be importuned falsely.

I do give to the community and to individuals whom I determine actually need or deserve
help, but I would prefer to be more openly and freely generous.
Image: art by me; "Gas Money"         

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Division of Labor

beer in a wineglass from a friend (she painted it)

Aka Nadine over at In Blue Ink wrote a story that derived from an interesting post by Miriel about chores and who does what household jobs.

I am not a very tidy person, and that is a bit of an understatement.  However, I am not the worst slob I've ever seen by a long shot, either.

 When I met my husband, he was extremely tidy.  Turns out that was in part a show he was putting on for me when we were courting, but he's probably still tidier than I am.  During the time we were courting, he did most of the cooking and all the cleaning and laundry etc. when I was staying at his house and I did everything at my house.  I mowed my lawn, he mowed his, I shoveled my driveway and he shoveled his EXCEPT occasionally, he'd also shovel mine.  He was always willing.

 When we discussed living together, and getting married, I expressed a deep concern about my perceived differences in our housekeeping styles and he said, "I'll do everything" and I said, "you can't do everything," and he said, "I WILL do everything," and even though I didn't think trying to do everything was that great an idea, I decided if he was willing to try, I'd do what could and let him do the rest.

 I took over most of the cooking.  He now makes breakfast on Sundays and spaghetti on Wednesdays (or whenever) and also cooks if I have a deadline or am incapacitated (which I was for months earlier this year and he literally did do everything.).

 I tried to take over the laundry, but he insists on fluffing the clothes while they're being folded.  He stands by the dryer with the dryer running and takes out one item at a time and folds it.  Since I have fibromyalgia and cannot do that and don't care enough to want to do it even if I could, he does the laundry.  I am willing to do mine own and the sheets, but he does them anyway.

 He mows the lawns, we both shovel the driveways.  He probably shovels more than I do.  He fixes the cars and motorcycles.  Literally.  Fixes them himself, unless he can't for some reason (as in an engine has to be lifted out).

I handle 98.7% of the personal and non-bill correspondence, he pays the snail-mail bills.  I handle gift-buying, card sending and everything that needs to done online including almost all emails and all online bill paying (but there’s more snail-mail bills) and online banking (transfers etc.).

 I do almost everything that has to be done on a computer, including preparing most of his pictures for the DSS (our club, The Detroit Stereographic Society.)

 We make our own breakfasts and lunches except Sunday breakfast which he makes and occasional special lunches which I make (Saturdays) (but I make lots of leftovers [planned-overs] for his workday lunches. I do the shopping at Village Market, which is most of it, and he does the shopping at Kroger.  He will also often come and carry home the groceries from Village (I walk there).  We both wash dishes.  He usually vacuums. (I hate the sound of the vacuum cleaner [also leaf blowers and lawn mowers], so he usually does it when I’m out.) He usually takes out the trash and recycling and whoever gets there first brings in the can and bin.  (Sometimes me).

He’s 68 and I’m 67 and my health issues are currently worse than his.  But all along, he’s done more than his share of the household “work,” and does it so cheerfully without complaint that I want to do whatever I’m able to make it up to him.

He works.  I am retired.  But I am attempting to be a writer and artist.  One of our family members got very angry (not at me) and said that writing and art are HOBBIES if you’re not making money from them.  So, if that’s true, I’m indulging in hobbies that only theoretically might provide some income at some future date.  However, those hobbies are extremely important to me and luckily, my husband believes in supporting the arts by supporting ME!!!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Imaginary Lives

The Half-lived Life
digitally manipulated digital composit
click on image to view larger
aka Nadine, over at In Blue Ink, has written a post about imaginary lives.  It came from May B's blog and references The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  I worked though that entire book years ago.  The book was ruined in "The Floods" we had, so I bought a new copy and worked through it again.   Even so, I have forgotten what I wrote, and my old computers (multiple iterations of them) have died, so I will start over and write something new.

One of the things about being a writer of novels (I can't say I'm a novelist, since I have yet to publish any of them ) is that I get to sort of try on various lives, and have based long and short stories on that premise.

Here are some of the lives I've imagined for myself, not in novels, but in my normal waking life:

1)Writer. (famous writer, famous poet, children's author.)  I used to always imagine myself being famous.  Now, I just want to complete and publish some of my work.

2)Artist:  I'd like to illustrate and publish children's books.  And maybe adult picture books as well.  That's more of a goal than a life, but I have imagined myself in the life of an artist.

3)Photographer:  I'd like to be a more skillful photographer and perhaps publish some of my photographs.  One of the lives I often used to imagine for myself when I was younger was being a National Geographic photographer.  Or working for National Wildlife or some other magazine, but National Geographic was long a favorite fantasy.

4)Naturalist.  I used to be a naturalist, and after I lost that job, I fantasized for years about doing it again.   I loved it.

5)Park Ranger:  This is another long-time fantasy of mine.  I used to want to work in a fire-tower, but that job has become obsolete.  For many years, I wanted to be a park ranger or naturalist in one of the big National Parks such as Yosemite.

6)Environmentalist:  When I was in college, I got really swept up by the environmental movement and often dreamed of becoming deeply involved in life of environmentalism.

7)Shaman/Healer:  I took a lot workshops and courses toward becoming a Shaman and many others on being a healer.  That includes such things as Reiki,

8)Vagabond:  I've led the life of a vagabond and have often missed it and considered returning to it.  Before I met Biker Buddy, I was seriously considering returning to that life.

9)Catholic Nun or Zen or Buddhist Nun:  No, I am not making this up nor am I copying aka Nadine.  It's something of fantasized about for many years, off and on.  I was not raised a Catholic, but my father's family was Catholic and I went to church with my relatives for many years as a child.  I later became a practicing Zen Buddhist.  A life of simplicity and even asceticism appeals to me on some level.  I hate the vulgarity of over-consumption, even though in some ways, I am guilty of it.

10)A happily married woman:  For years, I used to fantasize about being a happily married woman.  I had a series of terrible relationships, and some that had their ups and downs.  Some of it was my own fault and some of it was bad choices and some of it was bad training.    But finally, I have a happy marriage.  It's not perfect, but nothing in this life ever is.

11)A healthy life:  My current fantasy, and one I have had for many years, is to lead a healthy life, to sleep well instead of being awake the entire night like I was last night, and to be lean, happy, healthy, vigorous, enthusiastic, active, engaged etc.  I realize the older I get, the less likely this fantasy is to be realized, but I haven't given up hope.

12)A life free from addictions:  My current addiction of choice is food, particularly sugar, which affects me very badly, but if I have the tiniest bit, I want more. ("One is too many and a hundred is not enough").  My fantasy life would be a life free from addictions.  A more practical imaginary life would be one where day by day, I am truly successful at managing addictions.  That is, avoiding sugar and white flour and not overeating and not substituting other addictions for food if I control the food.

13:  A happy life:  I would like to be calm, serene and reasonably happy.  Sometimes I am, but I am not good at being happy or serene when I haven't slept in days.

13)A "Together" Life:  Some people seem to have it all together.  SEEM may be the operative word.  Or maybe they really are in control and organized.  I feel overwhelmed.  I'd like to have a reasonable number of ducks and get them lined up and quacking a happy song.

OK, clearly I could go on and on beyond the original scope of the exercise!!!  I think we were only supposed to do FIVE.  I'm not good at following directions!

Do you have one or 5 (or more) imaginary lives you'd like to share?  Or poem of flash fiction piece based on an imaginary life you'd like to lead or just try out?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Coleurs de Provence a Rousillon and new nettles poem

Unfinished portrait of biker buddy with beer

Unfinished portrait of an imaginary woman

I'm not sure if I mentioned that my daughter Sara and her husband brought me artists' pigments from Rouisillon in Provence, France.

I finally started experimenting with the artists pigments last night.
I was up the absolute entire night with insomnia and decided, since I
couldn't sleep, to try doing egg tempera.  I'd done some at the MOST (Museum of Science and Technology) as a
workshop for kids, but when I read online about it, I got rather
daunted and fearful, but hey, why not try, I thought.

In the first one, of Keith, I drew an India ink sketch on watercolor
paper which I glued to cardboard.  In the second one, I painted
directly on the cardboard.

I was afraid those tiny containers of pigment might only be enough for
a single painting (and if I made oils--that MIGHT be true?), but with
the egg tempera, a tiny bit went a really LONG ways, and in fact, I
had to throw some of it away, as it would have dried before my next
session.  The second painting I started to use up the leftover paint
I'd made, and I did not make a sketch ahead, I just painted directly
onto the cardboard. ("carton")

Neither one of them are done yet--the paint is transparent, it requires
several layers and you have wait for it to dry between layers or it
picks up some of what you've already laid down for a patchy effect
(notice Keith's shirt.)  I've only used 5 colors so far, green, blue,
black, pale yellow ochre, and fleshy yellow ochre.  There are, of
course, a number of other colors, but the process of opening them and
mixing them is slow so I thought I'd start slowly as well, especially

since I don't know what I am doing.

It is interesting (to me, anyway), that when Dave and Julie were here
for the reunion, we went to the Cranbrook art museum and viewed an
exhibition of egg tempera paintings done by
Zoltan Sepeshy, a figurative painter, and Wallace Mitchell, an abstractionist, which really impressed me.  I did
not like all the pieces, but was excited by maybe about half of them,
and particularly excited by about 10%.  They made me interested in trying egg temperas.
Additional reports will probably follow.

and, since I was up all night (literally), I also wrote a poem.  Here's how it starts:

A Gift of Nettles

I plunge into a thicket of nettles, nettles so rich
they tower over my head.  Even with my arms
clutched . . . 

I need to stop "publishing" my poems on my blog, because many of the journals now require that poems have not been "published," even on one's own blog.  I would like to try publishing some of my poems in paper and online journals, so if you would like to read this poem  say so in the comments and leave your email in a separate but related comment (I will delete the email comment), unless I already have it, and I will send along the poem.  It will be a draft, whatever draft is current.

Writing a new poem each week is on my "goals" list, but I didn't mention the egg tempera, although doing art is also on the list.

Again, I apologize for some fairly severe formatting issues that I cannot seem to resolve.

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being." Hafiz of Persia"



 I didn't trust it for a moment
but I drank it anyway,
the wine of my own poetry.

It gave me the daring to take hold
of the darkness and tear it down
and cut it into little pieces.

-- Lala, 14th century Persian poet

Monday, December 02, 2013

Tut, tut, Woman Scolding

"Tut, tut, Woman Scolding"
First half of a collaboration for Mike to finish
pen and ink with watercolor "wash"
click image to view larger.
Okay, here's my collaboration of the second pass of round four in my own Moleskine, for Mike to finish.

I still have one full page to do of my own work, plus I was going to do the back cover.  I may skip that until later, same with decorating the envelope,  If I'm running late.  I'm so OCD sometimes that the thought of skipping something Id wanted to do makes me nervous.

But here is one more sub-task of one of the tasks I wanted to accomplish this month.  And as far as two posts a week, hey, maybe for December, which will crazy busy in an escalating fashion, maybe I just have to average 2 a week and I''m getting head start on next week, LOL!!!

Collaboration with Hennie Mavis: Cardinal Dream

Hennie's lovely start
(First half)
(click this and all images to see larger)
Hennie's gorgeous painting is wonderfully balanced and has really nice composition and color.

my half of the collaboration
cardinals fly, by Mary Taitt
Unfortunately, when I started this painting, we company for dinner and I only had one of my small watercolor kits, it was the wrong one, and the colors didn't match.  Wrong reds and blues.  Of course, that wasn't the only flaw, I'm sorry to say.

full double-page spread
Cardinal Dream
collab Hennie Mavis and Mary Stebbins Taitt

The dream was Hennie's, a wonderful dream.

I have one solo piece and one first half collab for Mike left to do before I mail.  When I complete, I will be able to mark off one item in my ridiculous goals list in the previous post.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Goals for December

Over at In Blue Ink, aka Nadine posted her goals for December, and the results of her goals for November.  I meant to post my November goals but never got a round to it.  They included doing NaNoWriMo, which I did and am pleased about. It took a good part of my month!

Thinking about goals gets my knickers all in a twist. I'm not good at limiting them to 5. And then I feel overwhelmed.

I'm going to try for 5 realistic goals:

  1. walk 45 minutes every day, and if I miss a day, make up for it. Right now, because of the holidays, I'm down a half-hour.  I was down an hour, but yesterday and today, I walked an hour.  I do not want to use a distance, because of my fibromyalgia (sometimes, I'm too sick to walk far and have to walk slowly), and until I can get a fitbit or similar items, I probably will not count steps.  OK, I'm modifying that to success if I average six day a week.
  2. finish 4 books.  (yes, I'm sort of copying Nadine until find my own rhythm--like a said, I tend to go overboard.).  I just finished one today, so I only three more to go, but that's OK, it's going to be a very busy month.
  3. get out into nature at least twice during the month--hmmm--even though this is a big favorite for me, I now live in the city, I hate driving in bad weather, and December is probably the busiest month of the year.  I USED TO GET OUT IN NATURE NEARLY EVERY DAY!  WAHN.  OK, I'm trying for 2, but I'd like even more than two.
  4. post here at least twice a week.  Hmm, I'm not really sure that's an appropriate goal.  I don't exactly have a shortage of things to post, I have a shortage of time.  I'll try it on for size, though.  I'll have to do a costs-benefit analysis!
Auxilliary goals:
  1. do some fun things with my sweetie!!!!
  2. write at least one new poem a week.
  3. revise at least one poem a week
  4. send out a packet of three or more poems every other month (OK, JANUARY? except see below))
  5. meditate 3 times a week (I'm slipping here) or do t'ai chi or something for calmness and serenity.
OK, now my "real" list of what I really wish I could accomplish:

  1. create and "publish" 3 new books for Frankie for Christmas (or anyway, at least one.)  I have two started, but may start a third because that one would be easier to finish.  I want at least one done for Christmas.  One of them requires not only artwork, but also working out the poems needed.
  2. prepare 3 pictures for myself and encourage K to do his or do them for him for the DSS meeting which is December 11.  The theme is water.  (And decide what to bring for the covered dish and make it).  Does that go in the fourth list, under have-tos, or here?
  3. get my Christmas shopping done early, and the gifts wrapped early so I can have one less thing to worry about.
  4. stop worrying (yeah, right).
  5. make homemade Christmas cards and get them all sent in time for them to arrive by Christmas.
  6. continue working on my current novel that I did for NaNoWriMo until I finish it, so for the month of December, lets say I write at least every other day at least 1000 words.  The reason is, once I get separated from working ont he novel, I lose the thread of it and it slides onto the back burner and becomes very difficult to pick up again.
  7. Do some kind of artwork at least every 3rd day, to keep my hand in.
  8. Get the Moleskine that I am currently working on finished and mailed by December 15.  This means finishing the current piece, which is a collaboration, doing one complete page of my own, hopefully for one of the Frankie books listed in goal number one of this second list.  It also will help with goal number 5 (there is some overlap here).
  9. Submit collaborative with Julie Levy poem to Mixitini Matrix.  This means finishing an art piece I started to accompany the poem.
  10. Submit postcard poem 
  11. submit poem to Bitter Oleander (determine if December is the right month and if not, put it on calendar.)
  12. getting back on a diet (this may be impossible in December, too much going on that involves food.
  13. getting back on my exercise program:  I quit exercising , except for walking, during the month of November in order to free up time for writing.
  14. come up with an idea for NaNoWriMo 2014 even though I think I should NOT do it.
And a list of "have-tos:"
  1. Cleaning for guests who will be coming here.
  2. Planning Christmas eve dinner, which I am in charge of
  3. Planning our end of the Christmas trip to Syracuse.  (maybe that should go up above).
It's sort of difficult to decide where to put certain things, and even things I like or love and think I want to do become onerous when I look at the whole big stupid list.

I'm sure I've forgotten stuff, too. 

Image:  from the Heidelberg project in Detroit.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mirror Image Published

Jessie *

I'm excited because I just got a story published in Stone Canoe.  The story is 4 and a half pages long, and I have included the first page here, along with a link to the rest.

Mirror Image
We were all invisible then, each in a different way. If I’d known what was going to happen, I’d have paid more attention. Or, perhaps,I’d have at least tried harder. I should have been better at it. I’d just read “Our Town” again, for my college lit class. I’d read it in highschool, too. I kept saying to Jesse and Jesse, “Look at me, Mother. Please, just look at me.” And they would look, glazed, and maybe giggling, or sober, or half-crocked, and then we would all laugh. Or be spooked. Or turn away, tired of the game. But I did not see. I was too burnt and too hidden inside myself, and it would get worse before it got better.
It wouldn’t get better for a long time. 

We lived in the stone house at the bottom of the park. When I think
of it now, it seems at is if opened into the park, bright and airy yet
somehow shadowed, but that’s a dream fragment from the mixed up
dreams I have about the place. In some of the dreams, it is me who
dies of AIDS and I see everything as if I were watching from above.
Or I am killing Jesse Peters, or maybe Jesse French. In the dream, I
pull the trigger.
The real apartment opened away from the park. We lived in the
basement. To get to the park, we walked up around the house and
through the wild locusts and the grove of tree-lilacs. Up and up and
up to the brick water tower at the top of the hill where the whole
city spread below. And in the winter, down the great hill on sleds at
breakneck speeds.
Because the house was built on a hill, the back of our stone-house
apartment was below ground, but the front, downhill corner was
above ground. It faced south and had large leaded glass windows in
the front that filled the basement living room with sparkly light and
We three Jesses looked almost as if we were siblings. We each
had shoulder length wavy auburn hair, with varying degrees of red,
and freckles. Jesse Peters was tall, lean, loose limbed and always
looked a little out of focus, at least in my memory. He was highly
freckled, fuzzy and slightly unkempt. Jesse French was the best looking. He was more compact, more handsome. Shorter. More coiffed.  His face looked almost like a movie star’s, except for the long waving auburn hair. He had the fewest freckles. And then there was me . . .   to continue reading, click here

© 2013 Stone Canoe Journal -

*Image of Jessie adapted from Ami with Crow, a gouache painting by me.

This story is fiction but based in part on real events.  I have fiddled and fiddled and fiddled with the formatting and cannot get it right.  I truly tried, I apologize.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

NaNoWriMo Winner

One of the things that's been keeping me really busy is writing a brand new novel for NaNoWriMo, National Novel-Writing Month.  And, I just won.  Just now!  YAY! Understand that winning simply means I've reached 50,000 words--50,151 to be exact.  I haven't finished the novel yet.  And when I finish the first draft, it will be just that, a first draft.  But I am still very excited.

I started crying--they were all cheering and blowing whistles.  I had to turn them off--my husband was asleep.  Maybe I can listen tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doing Art with a Friend

I haven't been around much lately! So much has been going on in my life.  Among other things, I've been traveling, and on my travels, I did art with my friend Hennie Mavis.

Cardinal Dream, by Hennie Mavis, scan
Click this and all images to view larger

Here is a scan of Hennie Mavis's Cardinal Dream. I totally love both the dream and the art!  Do click on it to see it larger.  We spent a wonderful couple days together in Syracuse, NY, where neither of us live any more, hiking and doing art.  As soon as I can, I will complete the collaboration and post it; I've been absurdly busy.  Confession:  On top of all the other problems and commitments, I am also trying to do NaNoWriMo this month.

Braid by Hennie Mavis on Banana paper
I have a sketchbook  made of all nature fibers.  The paper is made largely of banana skins.  It is very lightweight, but responds differently than other paper.  hennie did this picture of my braid as a collaboration for me to complete.

Biker Buddy, for Andrea's pocket
Here is a portrait of Biker buddy in water color for Andrea's pocket. I did it last night. We had ML over for dinner, keith's Mom, And I worked hard making a fairly elborate dinner, so then I rested doing art. YAY art.
In the Garden, for Andrea's pocket
When I was with Hennie doing art at the motel, I finished one picture and started this, which I finished when I got home. I did without the benefit of anything to look at, and I also didn't sketch it ahead, just painted directly on the paper out of my head.

Three Poppies, banana paper
This is the painting that I did on the banana paper while Hennie was doing the cardinals and before she did the braid.

a bit of silliness
at the motel
doing art at the motel
Hiking with Hennie and Scott (by Keith)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Frankie Goes to France

My grandson Frankie will be three years old next month and has recently returned from a trip to France.  I made him this book as a birthday gift with photos from the trip taken by his parents, on Shutterfly.  (I've been very pleased with their books, for the most part.)

To properly view this post, click on the first picture and then scroll through.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

"Just Writing," Thursday, October 24, 2013, 2:24 PM

Pier Park

            Thursday, October 24, 2013, 2:24 PM, "Just Writing"* Pier Park, puffy clouds on blue sky, fall colors, cold wind.  If I were writing a "piece," which would need to flow in some orderly fashion, I would describe the park, which is on a peninsula that juts out into Lake St. Clair, but if I were just writing, I would probably not describe the marina for new reader.  Because who is the new reader when I am "just writing?"  Mostly, if I am "just writing," I am writing for myself and I already know about Pier Park, having been here hundreds of times before.  I know about the tennis courts and the red wagons for carrying stuff out to the boats in their slips.
            But because it occurs to me that I might be posting this as "just writing," I think I need to explain in case anyone actually looks at what I have written.  But doesn't that defeat the point of "just writing?"
            Brian Powers kept me late.  Of course we started late, and I was so tired and a little depressed and didn’t really want to be there.  Some black guy in medical scrubs was in with BP taking my time and I was resentful and seriously considering leaving--I was composing a note to him in my head.  "Was here, but you were not." or something equally offensive.
            I resent being kept late because I have so many other things I need to attend to.
            I settle my hat more firmly on my head against the wind.  I'd be sad if it blew into the lake.  The roses and hydrangeas are still in flower, in spite of the cold.  A guy with white hair is walking on the path ahead of me.  The horizon is dark, the sky pale, the clouds receding into the distance growing smaller and smaller, a single sailboat perches on the horizon, the tress rustle in the wind, the leaves rattle across the ground.  The white-haired guy is walking faster than I am and the distance between us is lengthening.
            A grey-haired person walks toward me, hands in the pockets of a parka, looking down.  It takes me almost until she reaches me to determine it's a woman.  Her hair is pulled back and she could be a man from the front.  Her face is very wrinkly and she looks sad. 
            I jam the hat on tighter.  I pass a man fishing and two workers rolling hose.   One Echinacea not gone by.  All the others have been cut down by the workers and hauled off somewhere.
            I see a shining on the horizon where a spot of sun comes between the couds.  It's not shining here . . . and . . . now it is, but the wind is icy.
            ML is coming to dinner tonight.  (ML is Mary Louse, my mother-in-law, age 91.  I would not have to say that if I were just writing for myself, since I already know, so I must think I might be going to post this.)  I need to hurry home and clean up some.  Keith is making spaghetti for dinner.
            I pass another fisherman, this one with two poles.  Every time I come here this fall, like every fall at this time, there are fewer and fewer boats in the slips.  I turn around at the end of the pier, walk back the other way and notice that the same fisherman now has three poles set up and a fourth leaning on his cart. 
            I had terrible insomnia last night and was awake (and up out of bed) until after 3 AM.  BP suggests thyroid issues, lyme disease.  I'm very tried.
            They used to have big thick "nautical" ropes strong along the wharf here, but now they've replaced them with aluminum piping (fence, rails).  They've been working on it for a while and it now seems to be complete.  It feels safer (for someone like me who sometimes stumbles or staggers), but isn't as pretty.  Or, maybe it's pretty in a different way. 
            The guy with the white hair, who is all dressed in grey, just came up from behind and passed me.  He "lapped me,” in a way, but not really, because I walked to the end of the Pier and back and he did not, not now. 
            I went to the NaNoWriMo website for Detroit today and looked at the faces of the people running the site and they look like teenagers, or very young twenties.  I could be their grandmother.
            The color of the horizon has changed yet again.  It is now a translucent green, turquoise green.  The single sailboat is still out there.  Starting at Pier Park, I follow the land around to the south as it shrinks and shrinks and disappears, leaving nothing but open water.  It's a long span around to the north to land again in the distance.
            I have no particular desire to go out there.
            My desire to be in the woods may be, if BP is right, causing my terrible symptoms--that is, if I have Lyme disease.
            He thinks I might.
            I could have both thyroid issues and Lyme disease.
            It always amuses me when the boats start peeing.  (Bilge pumps.)
            The woman of indeterminate gender with the blue parka and grey hair walks toward me again.  She and the white-haired man with the grey clothes and I seem to be the only people walking here today.  We each apparently have planned different routes.  I am walking another pier and the water below the pier here is shallow and the bottom is sandy.  The waves make wave-shadows on the sand and the sun sparkles on the waves so that there is a multitude of overlapping patterns.  As I walk out the pier, the water gradually deepens, shifting the patterns.  Out at the end, there are weeds, a few here and there rising from the sand and undulating in the water. 
            I walk along the sandy shore of Lake St. Clair, studying the mountain range patterns created by the lapping waves.  Pockets of rotted seaweed under the sand collapse and I get my socks wet.  I am wearing sandals with socks.  Clean Darn Toughs.  No longer clean. 
            There is a pumpkin nearly buried in the sand at the edge of the water.  Cottonwood leaves floating and gathering at the edges.  Rain pocks in the sand.  No other human footprints, but goose tracks.
            There is an abandoned red plastic pail and a blue plastic shovel and large plotches of heron doo.  There are no children here today, the pool too is empty of people and the water, which is only about two feet deep, is turning green.  Small bird flutter through the weeds in the beach accretion on the other side of the fence.  The buoys are wound around carts and strung from the pool fence.  The lifeguard chair has been removed from the beach and a sign says, Warning.  I can't read the smaller words underneath.  Oh, now I can, "No lifeguard on duty, swimming in this area could be dangerous.  Another sign says "restrooms closed for the season."
            No kids are playing in the tot lot, either.  It's a little chilly, but I would have brought my kids here. 

  • *I originally saw this here:  In Blue Ink.  
  • You can participate here:  Just Write 107
  • Learn more about it here.  Details.
  • My previous post, which kind of reads like a story, I think, was something I wrote "Just Writing" as I walked.  (But I only included that one section here:  Tent camp.
This isn't a Tuesday and I don't know if I am writing from "the gut" or not.  I'm just writing.  Like I do almost every single day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Transforming Tent Village at Lake St. Clair

The Transforming Tent Village at Lake St. Clair  

            I’m out walking at St. Clair Lake Metro Park; it's a perfect day, weather-wise, warm without being hot, cool without being cold, breezy on the edge of windy, sunny and pretty, fall color.  Many turtles are out sunning themselves in the pond.  I attempted a picture with Elfie, my old Canon digital Elph camera, but it was pretty much a waste of time.  The zoom on it is useless, but it’s the only camera I have with me.
            Because of the wind, there are kites flying.  I see six of them at the boat launching site, the big semi-circular ones that look sort of like parachutes.
            I am walking the boardwalk.  Keith apparently doesn't like it.  I imagine this because several times, I asked him to choose which way to walk and he always chose the other way, into the woods, so, since he’s not with me (I miss him!), I chose to come this way today, for a change.  I don't find the marsh boring.  It's lovely in a zen-like way, with patches of subtle color and vegetation changes and I am glad to be here, taking my time to enjoy it.  I do love the woods, also.
            I am up at the boat launch area.  It is very windy out here; the wind is much stronger than in the woods.  The kite flyers have set up tent-like, lean-to-like colorful cloth shelters that are rippling in the wind with flapping and snapping sounds.  I wonder if there is a competition going on.   The kite-fliers are also flying flags.

          Those things I thought were shelters are NOT!  They are kites, laid on the semi-circular curved base.  Someone just came and picked one up and it trying to get it airborne.  The wind, while strong, is gusty and unpredictable.

            The man is wearing a uniform, which makes me wonder again if it is a competition.
            I turned away for a minute, and when I looked back, the shelter cum kite is airborne.  It's red, blue and white with letters, an L and an F.
            Some of the kites are bigger and some smaller.  Some wider and some narrower.  OH!
            OH! Now I see that the uniforms are wetsuits and the men are windsurfing.  They are out on the water blowing away in the wind.  How will they get back?
            They are going straight out into the lake, away from shore.  OH!  Now they are coming back.  Somehow, they are able to go both out and back.

            My guy, LF, is wading out, along with another guy, blue dude.  LF’s kite crashes in the water.  He gets it up again.  Meanwhile, another guy, red dude, surfs right up to where I am standing, clunks down, rotates and surfs extremely rapidly away again.  LF is still trying to get onto his board.
            I take some pictures with Elfie, wishing I had a better camera with me . . . I had no idea I would be here when I left home.  LF and blue dude are still struggling to get up while others race back and forth.  I can't believe how fast they go.
            It seems odd now that I thought the kites were an “Arab” tent village when I first saw them.  More men--and women are picking up the “tents,” which transform into kites, and heading for the water.  I watch a while, then give up waiting for LF to become waterborne.  I'm heading on and finishing my walk.  I'm really glad I came, though.  We've seen those same kites before and even photographed them behind the trees, but I had no idea people were surfing with them.
            When I get home, I look it up.  It’s called kitesurfing, and it looks very exciting and possibly dangerous. I guess because I don't watch TV, I'm not very well informed; if I did, I might have known about kitesurfing, though I do think I've seen pix of it before.  I just didn't make the connection with the big kites we’ve seen and with St. Clair Lake Metropark.

Saturday, October 19, 2013




He picked a table in the wrong room.  I’d driven my own car and looked for him first in the old rooms.  I loved the old rooms in Mother’s, the ones with the low lights, small cubbies and slanted floors.  He picked the bright new room, like a gymnasium or a school cafeteria.  It was a disappointment, but I’d survive it.

It was our second date.  We met at a bar a few nights before.  Each of us had come with someone else.  We left with each other.  He was a good kisser, and wanted more, but I made him wait.  “I don’t do that,” I explained, “on a first date.”

I studied him.  He was a little fleshy in the jowls.  Otherwise handsome, with bright blue eyes and shocks of blond hair.  He wore jeans, a cowboy shirt and cowboy boots.

He studied me.  I was a little overweight, but not bad.  Not then.  I was running, dieting, taking care of myself.  And I was tanned, not from salons or laying on the beach, but from a long hike through the mountains, solo.  I was proud of myself.  I felt strong and capable.

He looked at my feet.  I wore jeans and my battered hiking boots, a trophy from 125 miles in the Adirondack Wilderness.  “Next time, you’ll have to get rid of those boots,” he said, “and wear some nice pumps.”

I hadn’t finished eating; I’d barely gotten started.  I got up and walked out.  I had a pair of old pumps in my trunk for emergencies.  I hadn’t worn them in years.  I took them out and put them on the hood of his pick-up truck and drove away.

From a photo-prompt given in the Cowbirders' Poetry and Flash Fiction Group #7 (my second response to that prompt.) The photo, by my husband Keith, manipulated by me, was taken at the Heidelberg project in Detroit. I have lots of shoe pix also, but my computer isn't working well. While I labeled this as fiction, it is based on a true story. A guy I was out on a second date with at Mother's in Liverpool told me I had to wear pumps on our next date. I made absolutely certain there was no next date.