Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Beauty of the Morning Routine

I have this routine I go through every morning. When I wake up, I wonder what the weather is like outside. Is it sunny or cloudy? Generally, I start out on a happier note when the sun is out. Next I pry myself from the bed after listening to the news the partner left on before he went to work. Then I turn on the burner for the tea water and with my first cup of green tea, I head for the computer. It's the smartest piece of technology I own. I still have a dumb phone and I don't even own an ipad. As much as I would like these modern conveniences, the computer has pretty much become the focal point of my life and I'm afraid of what mobile devices might turn me into. I use it to blog and for my on-line sales. Which leads me to my next step. I check my e-mail to see if any sales occurred while I slept. Then it's on to e-bay and etsy and facebook. Finally, I create a blog or "bliary" which I choose to publish or not publish. If I don't feel like writing on a particular morning, I go back through four years of previous writings and pull from them. It's a nice stash to rely on. It used to be I wrote every day without fail, but things like my daughter's mental illness, my partner's cancer and the stress of trying to keep a small business afloat got in the way. By and large the body of work from the past appears to me as drivel now, but that's okay. There are kernels of thought sprinkled here and there that I can go back to and develop. I can also look out the window in front of this desk and see the changing of the seasons. Today is cloudy and the maple tree in front hasn't even begun to show signs of life. Just before I sat down, I saw a red cardinal sitting on a branch. I tried to get a good picture of him, but he was too far away. Next I saw his mate land where he had been. I love birds and even in this ruinous end of the city where houses sit partially decayed and unkempt by unscrupulous landlords, the birds visit and make everything seem better. Technology be damned, the sound of birds in the early spring can still stop me in my tracks. I'm happy for that. I really am. So that's it. My morning routine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The world is shapes and colors.  I used to teach a lesson about  synesthesia.  I found an article in U.S. News and World Report years ago on the phenomenon of synesthesia.  It's rare, but in some individuals, when they experience one sense, another comes into play.  Many artists and musicians have it.  For example, when a young man heard a car go by he saw dots.  When a girl kissed her boyfriend she saw orange sherbet foam.  When a woman heard her husband's voice, she tasted warm buttery toast.  According to the researcher in the article, all the secondary senses involved in the experience are primitive.  W. Kandinsky paints to sounds.  The colors and images come from the sound.

My first car was a 1978 Mercury Cougar, a gas guzzling beast.  I loved that car.  When my son was little and the muffler fell off, he used to say "go fast Mommy" so he could hear the roar.  I'll bet a synesthete would have gone nuts if s/he had heard that monster flying by.  Gray, red, purple, black dots -- the speed of sound.  What a light show

I wish I saw dots when I heard the sound of a car passing by.  Big polka dots, red and black, like the ones found on old Fire King splash proof bowls.

Now about that synesthesia article I mentioned earlier.  According to the article, most of the people who experience this phenomenon are considered drug addicted or insane.  People don't believe them.

I'm refinishing a pair of 1940s hard rock maple kitchen chairs today.  They will be transformed from cornflower blue to candy apple red with the seats stripped to reveal the beautiful grain and patina of the wood.  How soothing it is to look at them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Smiles, Miles and Miles of Smiles

Years ago, when I used to attend the little Italian Catholic church up the street, known as St. Anthony’s, there was a family I often saw while attending.  They were Italian, a mother, son and identical twin daughters.  I assume the father had left or died early on because I never saw him.  This family was particularly devoted to church attendance and the girls were altar servers. They both had long, dark curls that hung in tendrils around their faces, but what struck me most about this family is that they never smiled.  I never saw them crack a smile the entire time I encountered their presence.  The children wore the same melancholy and stern expression that their mother wore.  I never saw any joy come from any of them and it always made me sad.  I wished many times for some sign of happiness to show on their countenances.  Years later I heard that one of the twin sisters had married, while the other had become a nun.  The brother I occasionally see at Wal-Mart where he works and he still wears that same somber expression.  Today, when I went to the post office to mail a package, the married twin sister and her mother were there waiting in line ahead of me.  A little toddler scrambled in front of the line and I realized that he belonged to the somber woman whom I had watched grow up in the shadow of her mother.  I kept waiting for her to react to her baby’s antics and when he scooted too far away and looked back at her inquisitively, her face broke into a smile that would have shamed the sun.  I was so happy for her.  As the grandmother and mother were leaving the post office together, they both turned to the child and once again I saw not only the mother’s face light up, but the grandmother’s as well.  I waited for years for smiles to appear on those faces, and today I got my wish, though I didn’t even know their names and I don’t think they remembered me from church, either.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Do You Love Me?

Do you love me? I often wonder what the ulterior motive is when this question is asked. Is it a selfish question from a needy and insecure person meant to put a significant other on the spot? Is it a need for affirmation in a world that is often unkind, cold and distant? Should it even be asked? Yes, I love you even when I hate you, even when I am at my wit's end and no longer want to be around you. Compassionate people cannot help but love. Sometimes, the compassion is torn from us when we are very young and we are unable to get it back. Sometimes we are born without it. Sometimes our pre-conceived notions and personal trips prevent us from compassion.
Many years ago I used to substitute teach and would often find myself in a small Resource Room in an elementary school working with special needs kids. It was difficult work and the kids were hyper and I was bored, finding the task of keeping them under control mundane and stressful. One little black girl named Christine took a liking to me and would worm and wiggle around me and try to play in my hair and practically sat in my lap if I let her, telling me I was pretty and that she loved me. Christine grew up, her emotional problems following and I would see her walking the mean city streets, often times alone or sometimes with others. A few years back she came into a shop I had rented space from, her clothes tight on a swollen body and her thick hair dyed blond. I asked if she remembered me. She beamed over the fact that I still knew her name, her smile exposing a lack of several teeth and said that she did. She told me she had several children, though I had never seen her with one. When I asked where they were, she said they had been taken from her. I sold her two beautiful glass necklaces at half price and watched her walk out the door and I wanted to call out "do you still love me?" But I didn't. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? On this 7th day of April, 2014, may we all be blessed with love.