Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ABC Wednesday: P is for...

Polish...shoe polish, that is.  (is that cheating?)  when I was a kid, our weekends revolved around 'sleeping contests', dad-made brunches, some sort of outdoor activity (archery, 'survival training', going to gymnastics meets, working around the house), watching Tarzan in my parents big bed, and pizza for Sunday dinner.  when they were full, we would roll up the pennies my dad saved in the two matching banks he kept for my brother and me.  and then there was the shoe polishing.  my dad loved a nice, high shine on his shoes - he loved shoes - it may have had something to do with the poverty of his childhood.  but he was mad for 'cowboy' boots, and wore them often, even though he had problems with his feet, and they pained him.  often I helped him remove them at the end of the day by straddling his leg and cupping the heel of his boot in my hands, while he put his other foot on my butt and pushed.  the memory makes me smile... : )

anyway - when Pops died, some of the things of his I kept were his shoe polishing gear.  the smell of it takes me back to the carefree weekends of my youth, with my arm buried in a tall, leather boot, buffing, buffing, buffing.  when I hold those old, wooden brushes in my hand, it's like I'm holding his memory, and I feel safe, content, at peace.  these totems live on my closet shelf, in a plastic shoebox, and until recently, hadn't been out in a long while.  sometime during the last decade, I noticed that a friend of mine had a cool old shoe polishing box, and I thought, 'oh, I want one of those...' and that was as far as it went.  well, as you may have already guessed, a recent trip to the thrift store yielded me my desire, and I picked up a cute little Kiwi Shoe Groomer for just a few bucks.  it's not much of anything but a wooden box with a rubber strip on top, but Kiwi was my dad's brand, so home it came to get all cleaned up and put to use.

here's the treasure trove of brushes, polishes, and conditioners that may be as old as me, and a bar of saddle soap that's probably my elder, but still works great.

 I don't happen to have any leather shoes just now, so I demonstrated this never-before-seen skill to my little one on his penny loafers.  he didn't get it at first, but once he saw how shiny they got, he kind of got into it

see how nice?  I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that Pops would have told me to buff them some more, but really, where's this kid going that he needs such mirror shine?  recess?

shoe polish.  that's what I've got for you this week, kids.  did you ever shine your own shoes?  did your parents?  I remember when there used to be a bottle of 'white stuff' in the kit to spot clean my Buster Brown Mary Jane's of those scuff marks I used to get on them from swinging my feet all the time.  man, I hated those shoes!  I was much happier in my Chucks, Zipps, or what we called shit-kickers (which I think most people simply call work boots, but the tan ones, with the cushioned ankle).  I may have to procure some more leather shoes, just so I can polish them with regularity!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday Whirl #80

It is my sincere wish that I, as a single woman, can continue to think of the best possible ways to free myself from the thread within which damaged men have bound my power.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

ABC Wednesday: O is for...

"aahhh...October."  the last word of the song Autumn Sea, by Robyn Hitchcock, posted below:

I'm not gonna do the Photo a Day Challenge anymore, I decided it was too much effort for too little return.  I like the ABC Wednesday share, because I can handle posting once a week rather than every day.  The Sunday Whirl is also nice, because I was looking for more writing prompts as well.  having an out of town guest for two nights put staying on top of posting way down the priority list, and once I fell behind, I didn't feel compelled to catch up.  my out of town guest was a cousin from my mother's mother's side of the family - she lives in Seattle, and is of my mother's generation though she's younger than my mom.  check out this lovely gift she brought me:

Mirjam Barnholtz Horowitz + family

the robust matriarch in the center is Grandma Miriam - Mirjam, to her husband - beloved mother and grandmother to my Aunt Ruth (to her left), my grandmother Gertrude (to her right, on my grandfather's lap), and two sons who I can't identify in the picture, if they're even there.  my cousin's parents, who introduced my grandparents to each other, are also in the picture.  my mom was very close to her grandmother, and she used to tell me that after her grandmother had died, she knew that if she had a daughter one day, that she would be named for Mirjam - and so I am.  I suppose that story had a more comforting tone to it before I found out I have a half-sister a few years older than me...and while I begrudge her nothing, it made me wonder if some of those faraway, dreamy looks I used to spy on my mother's face when she would utter this conviction from her past wasn't so much for the grandmother passed, but for the child lost - the Real Namesake, leaving me feeling a bit like an imposter in what I thought was my own story.

but no, say those who believe the Universe knows its work, the Name landed where it belonged.  while I am not the 'balabusta' Grandma was (stereotypical Russian-Jewish grandma, who cooked mountains of the best food ever, and radiated love in all directions), I have my skills and talents - I pass in the kitchen, and we surely don't starve over here.  That's basically all I know about Grandma - an angel, taken to early, greatly mourned, died before I was born, gave me my name.  I don't know who her parents were, if she had any brothers or sisters, or hopes and dreams.  I don't know what she died of, but I have a few of her handkerchiefs.  her husband - affectionately known as Grandpa to the great-grandkids as well - was a part of my life until I was a young teen, probably fourteen or so.

Grandpa came from a large family, he had 12 or 13 brothers and sisters if I recall correctly - I know I've seen a picture of them all together, with their little old mama in the middle.  he was a tailor, belonged to ILGWU - the International Ladies Garment Worker's Union - my mom still has his old foot-powered sewing machine.  I have several cassette tapes of him talking about his life in Russia before he came to the states, and it occurred to me to write some of those stories down, when I realized I no longer have a tape player...bummer, I'll have to figure that out.  I remember the stories about how some pigs drowned in his vats of bootleg whisky, how he had all his teeth pulled to avoid serving in the Czar's army, how he once escaped arrest (though I can't remember the crime, it may have been for bootlegging), and how he met and married his wife, my matronymic namesake.  He said our family tree began when Genghis Khan swept across the Steppes raping peasant women.  Grandpa was an ornery old man, but we all loved him, and he loved dogs.  He was the second person whose death I experienced - the first being Ruth's, his and Mirjam's youngest daughter, when I was a child.

the story of how my great-grandparents met, as I remember it, goes thus:  there was a big party in Grandma's shtetl (small village), where lots of folks from all the surrounding shtetls also came to celebrate - must have been a wedding, I'd guess - and that's when she and Grandpa met.  they didn't see each other again until that day at the train station (I don't know how long later) as they both fled the country for America.  he claims they got married on the spot, and 'laid together' that night - he would demand loudly with his finger in the air, "the first time!  I got her pregnant..." in his backwards, old-Russian-Jewish-guy syntax.  Grandma, you may recall, died before I was born, so there was no one to refute these claims, but I'm sure we were all too busy trying not to be grossed-out to worry about it.  so Grandpa ended up in New York, and Grandma went to meet up with some family in Missouri (Missouri?), where they told her they had a nice man for her to marry.  Grandma says, "remember Shike from the shtetl next to ours?  I married him at the train station back in (somewhere near Odessa), and I'm pregnant with his baby.  he's waiting for me in New York."  Grandma goes to New York, lives and dies there, and I am what's left of her.

Grandpa lived until he was 86 or so, and he married a few other ladies along the way.  Mirjam was his true love, though, and he would call out to her near the end, during those strange times when he would be sitting in our living room, and the dog would become agitated and raise his hackles.  Grandpa would look up from where he was dozing on the couch and say to nothing I could see, "go avay, I am visiting mine fambily.  not now...".  the chills running up and down my arms told me his end would be coming soon - he was a tough old bastard, but even Grandpa couldn't back the Angel of Death off forever.  I wasn't sad when he went, because I figured his energy would be happy to be free of the confines of the old, decrepit flesh and brittle bones, to go find and join with its love again.  it seemed like a life well lived, to me, and I am grateful to have know him.

it is the later part of October, and the veil between the worlds is thin this time of year, so the dead haunt me, and I become agitated and eat too much dairy.  and it's cold and rainy today, too, so while my muse wants to huddle away in the dark behind her long, sad, hair, and drink illicit beverages while pining away for Oscar Wilde's wardrobe, I must insist on tie-dyed pants, a yellow umbrella, and rubber boots.  and so I've honored my great-grandparents on my mother's mother's side, which is the oldest known branch of my ancestry to me - Russian Jews, from somewhere near Odessa.  of my grandfather's family, I know next to nothing - only that they were from Poland, and there were several uncles, aunts, and cousins I once knew, a handful of which I can even name, and none that I still know.

there were no great-grandparents on my father's side, the grandparents were lucky to have escaped Europe with their lives.  they all went to Israel, and then on to Canada, where their children and grandchildren still live.  my father is the ancestor who calls to me the loudest, though, and while I hear him, I'm not sure what he's trying to say, if he's saying anything at all.  maybe he just wants to be here, to come by and visit when he can, to see the boy, and I feel the stir of his presence.  like Robyn Hitchcock intones in the last two words of the song posted above, "aahhh...October."  with all its dark and bloody ghosts howling through the bone-chilled nights, it's time to light the fires and pull out the woolens to cuddle up with warm, spiced beverages until winter puts us all to sleep beneath the gentle blankets of her snow.

Sunday Whirl 79

"My buddie Sal, he hustles as a...tour guide, you know?  over near the bus station, he gets the freshies off balance before their feet have even hit the ground, takes 'em for a spin, shows 'em around...he sees 'em come in all the time, which is why he noticed this dame.  she seems to know the score, even managed to give old Sally the slip a few times, so he thought maybe she could handle the job.  yeah, I agreed to meet her at the cafe, and I gotta tell ya, she's the kind of woman you notice enter a room!  she stood framed in the doorway long enough to let her eyes adjust, so she could spot the fern she'd been told I'd be sitting by, then approached with an unhurried gait, and slipped into the booth.  she leaned in close to me and said, 'it's nice to meet you'.  I couldn't help but notice that her skin held no trace of the creams and powders the ladies use to highlight their features, and her breath smelled minty.  blinking, I shook my head a bit, and cleared my throat - sat up a bit taller.  'so, Sally recommended you to me, you must be hot stuff - do you know your way around a filing cabinet?' I asked, as I tossed some peanuts down my throat.  too many, apparently...they got stuck in a clump deep in my gullet and I began to choke.  it was so sudden, the loss of oxygen, the adrenaline rush of panic flooding my body as it realized there wasn't any air.  I thought, 'this can't be happening', as I watched one of my arms flail out and knock the fern to the ground in slow motion, and all I could think about was how much I loved that fern - how many times had I sat next to it while meeting with clients and friends alike?  how many times had I thought it looked dry and watered it from my own glass?  and now it was going to shatter on the floor, and it was my fault, and there wasn't anything I was going to be able to do to help it.  I spiraled down after it, and then this dame's face was suddenly above mine, a look of desperate concern etched across her brow as her eyes searched mine for some kind of answer, and her hands reached tentatively towards my chest and patted me, as if to wish me well on my final journey.  'at least', I thought, 'I get to die within the sturdy shelter of her compassion'...and then I was gone.  man, what a way to go...good thing I woke up here, there's no saying what would have happened if they had taken me to the hospital.  remind me to thank them proper, will ya, Ben?  jeez, thanks for helping a friend out, ya know?  I gotta go find Sal, see if he can give me a lead on that dame - I'm gonna find her, Ben, just you wait and see..."

click to join in

ABC Wednesday - N is for...

Nothing.  Nada...nil, nix, and none.  Nearly non-existent, never-was, none shall pass, not in my backyard.  Ouch.  I'm really hurting, so I had to fall off the wagon, get off the train, call a halt to the expedition, reroute the landing gear.  it's in my knees, mostly, and my gut.  the lower back feels like a building tide of muscle gathering to loose an angry red I long for a thick, woolen shelter, for the muffled peace of sacred solitude.  am I coming towards winter?  the hermited life of an ascetic, cloistered away in a hidden grove.  what purpose can it serve?  to mourn for the world, and pray for peace?  to feel my heart torn, everyday, asunder - to scream into the abyss until my throat rends and tears, for what?  nobody hears...nobody hears.  this vessel is breaking, and I can not hold it.  the howl is too massive, can't you feel it?  it's tearing through the floorboards of my house, exploding up through the ages to pour out and sing, but it's too loud and so deep, it's vibrating the foundations, flooding with light and the darkness.  those stories, those stories!  write them now, quickly - oh, I remember this pain, now.  the contractions have been rolling through me for a few months, I guess, but this last one tells me we're almost there.  and I'm going to tell you now, that for all my life, I've never been so scared.

oh, sure, there were those times when I fell out of the tree I was climbing, or got hit by a bike, had my hands slammed in car doors, or dropped a window on my foot.  there was the block to the head, and the glass underfoot, the knife to the thumb, and a thousand other little injuries.  the broken leg was probably the worst of them - it was certainly the ugliest to look at - but I don't really think there was any undue fear associated with the pain, other than the "aah, I'm falling!", or "my parents are gonna be pissed...".  car accidents are scary, but thankfully I've never been in one so bad where I, or anyone else, was seriously injured.  I've been lost in dangerous areas of the US and other countries, and then there have been those times when I have purposefully walked into the scary, naively unaware that my mettle was about to be tested, though keenly interested in my own response, as if I were separate from myself.  there is the jump of adrenaline, but would I call it fear?  the feeling right before the hammer drops, the moment that hangs... ...before it falls away, leaving you affected, possibly changed.

childbirth hurt.  a lot.  and it was scary, but only in the way that it was Unknown.  I can't even think of a number big enough to include all the women who have given birth since it became a thing, so what's to be frightened of?  pain can be managed, and though I decided to manage mine by walking it off, and standing in the shower, it was still quite painful and traumatic.  but the truth is, you deal with it while it's happening, and then you get over it.  this feeling I'm describing is different.  first of all, it comes from outside of us, deep in the ground, from our Source, out in the Universe...through us.  picture an old, clay jar, tall.  picture it rumbling a little, as if there's an earthquake in the distance.  now picture the jar filling up with light that seems to begin as an inner glow, and emerges out the top in a great, streaming beam, while the jar continues to rumble and crack, as the light pours out through the fissures of the clay being blown apart by the force of the energy.  now picture my body as that vessel.  that's the feeling I'm talking about.  that's what's scaring me.

I remember doing the math when I was pregnant, thinking that my son would be just shy of nine when the 2012 ball dropped somewhere other than Times Square, and feeling satisfied that he'd be big enough by then to run while humping his own pack (hey, my dad took our survival training seriously, and I'm a bit of a paranoid conspiracy theorist to boot).  not that I knew what we'd be running from (if anything), it's just a condition of having been born me, I suppose, to always have an escape plan.  I'm just a contingency-supply-bag and exit-strategy kind of girl, you know?  I love the many lovely and delicate things I keep in my home to decorate and enliven my space, but I will not look back if the jackbooted ugliness reaches my doorway.  hell, I don't even use salt...  the point being, the Earth is our Mother, and she is about to give birth.  I don't know to what, or what horrific form her contractions will take, but so far, it looks like wealthy republican overlords who intend to set their zombie armies to imprison and dehumanize the non-white/non-conformist male population, while raping and impregnating the female population.

once 98.6% of ameriKKKa has been relegated to work camps, all of jesus' little rape-babies will enjoy being raised into future zombie armies fed on 'enhanced, medicated chow', as the ritualized lobotomy-at-birth won't leave them much to complain about.  it is my sincerest hope that these nightmarish visions of possible futures as evidenced in the psychic over-wash of extreme distress our beloved planet is in are just that - the purging of emotional flotsam that can occur when toxicity is released from the body, and the vibration moves closer to its own harmony, while my own nature is leaving me torn between making for the hills in all swiftness, and polishing off the shotgun, filling the storehouse, and battening down the hatches.  of course, having neither shotgun, nor ammo, storehouse, or hatches pretty much leaves me the running for the hills option - so the question becomes 'which hills?'.

for all the crazy ouchie broken and stitched fallen off of out of onto in through gave birth to you Mother Earth is who you owe more than Fukushima which poisoned us all, rolled around us like a big cloud of 'now you've done it' like they'd been saying all these years out in desert, through the soy, which I've been saying all these years, like how the cities need to go back to green, like Bucky Fuller said all those years ago...we've got to shut it down, but more, we've got to grow the solution to clean up the mess.  I'm just  dreamer, that's all I'm good for.  all I can do is see it, and hold the vision in my head so that it's real for the people who can make it happen.  that's all the magic I have.  but there are times when it has been enough.  with all my heart, I hope it's enough.  if it isn't, we all die...well, we all die anyway, but without my vision, the end is a whole lot darker.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

PaD #14 - makes me laugh

I decided to take a break today and post this photo by an uncredited white house photographer, because it makes me laugh...

(for those of you who may not know, that is Nancy Reagan sitting on Mr. T's lap at the White House Christmas party, and kissing his forehead for the gift of a Mr. T action figure...even though I don't celebrate Christmas, this picture gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling ♥)

Photo a day

The Sunday Whirl #78

the excuses

     left over from childhood
find me where I stand 

vowed to go deeper

     as the shifts in my perception

echoed like thunder

I struggle to become

    to inherit my own light

and join with the umbrella

     of the Sun


PaD #13 - landscape

I can't even say how many times I've used this photo, I just really like it...

a few years ago, while working at the orchard, I passed this field four times a day - out to daycare, then to work, then back to daycare, and home.  every time I turned that corner, my eyes looked to see it.  I finally decided to capture it one perfect summer day, and I'm so glad I did.  it was a wonderful sight to have in my daily life, and always made me smile.  no matter what else was going on, there was at least 1 second of peace in every journey, whether I was in a state of mind to acknowledge it or not.  what a gift this diary farm was to me; if you were standing right in this spot, and turned your head to the right, you would see the cow barn across the road, the corn cribs with the crows and other birds hanging on them, and the old farm house.  just up the street a little bit are the ruins of an earlier farm and house, and I often wondered what I could learn from scratching around in that dirt a little - maybe it wanted me to know its story, maybe it felt me listening, and knew I would hear.

Photo a day

Friday, October 12, 2012

PaD #12 - on the table

well, this is goes like this:  I had a project out on the table, but moved it all aside to get out the box of seasonal stuff to decorate for Halloween - then I heard tell of frost tonight, so I moved all the Halloween items aside to make way for the last few survivors from the garden.  then the boy came home from school with the usual pile of papers that got left to be read later as we ran out for a few things.  by the time we got back, I said 'the hell with dinner, I'm calling for pizza!', so the papers got piled and set aside to make space for dinner...

Photo a day


this is what my hair usually looks like.  back in May, I wrote a post about why I wanted to dread it again, and talked about wrapping it up in braids and wishing it well.

in June
about a month in

the back, to show the length

by October, some of the braids had started to pull into knots vaguely resembling seahorses, that I didn't like, and some of them just curled into pretty ringlets, that I do like.  but I've decided that it isn't the dreads I really want - it's the braids and the jewelry.  so I started combing out the dreads and re-braiding the sections to keep them neat during the reclamation process.

dready 'ringlets' on right
'seahorses' @ 5 months

...and put the jewelry back in
combed out and rebraided...

see?  I dig this more!  and the ends remind me of feathers.
I've always loved my hair in braids, and when you have dreads, that's all you have - dreads.  you can't really do anything with them other than wear 'em up or leave 'em down. so I'm on to the next step in the development of the craft project that is my hair.

and to touch on the spiritual significance of the journey that I discussed in the Splitting Hairs post, what I found was that feeling like even more of a pariah than I usually do in situations like PTA meetings and school functions, job interviews and employment and training meetings, made me somehow more articulate - more easily able to put forth my viewpoints with rational discussion and argument.  it was like everyone expected me to be stoned (which I aspire to be), or stupid (which I do not).  I like the looks of surprise I get when people find me to be genuinely engaging and knowledgeable, though it bothers me to be constantly underestimated and devalued - judged part and parcel by my less-than-conventional attractiveness.  yes, I can speak to this, having witnessed my own transition from 'you're so pretty' to 'you'd be so pretty if...', and I won't even get myself started on how that kind of thinking lets thousands of women and girls go missing every year, because that's a different post entirely.

on a strange side note, having messy hair made me acutely aware of how shabby my clothes are, as I felt a need to balance the head-chaos with body-order, like an embodied Tower card...hmm, hadn't thought of that symbolism 'til just now, and it's quite powerful and significant, I have to say!  the concept of vanity played through my mind a lot, as I found that even a hairstyle based on neglect had me up in the bathroom mirror oiling and twisting, shaping and contemplating, tearing and adjusting, decorating.  I thought about how it's just natural to want to groom oneself, as I watched the kitten do just that, and about how Nameless Spirit doesn't give a shit about my hair, one way or the other.


I'm still thinking about how it affected the people who didn't expect to be tested by my hair - the good friends who hated it and were kind enough to say nothing, those to whom it didn't matter one way or the other, and even those who said they liked it.  it's nice to be at a place in my life where I finally feel comfortable enough to explore my own fancy, and have that be the deciding factor as to what's done with the stuff - it feels more like a personal decision than a social responsibility, which is great, because the greater good is demanding more from me these days than the gift of some vitamins and minerals I grew on my scalp, lovely as they may be.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

PaD #11 - something close-up

I have this amazingly beautiful and fantastic dress that I got in Israel many years ago.  it's not the sort of thing you pick up at any shouk - we went to the Bedouin market for this beauty (my Israeli/Romani dad knew how to shop that's for damn sure).

here are a few close-ups of the exquisite thread work - the best I could get with the Blackberry, which is sort of frustrating when it comes to prompts like this, as I have no control over anything.  just like the old point-and-shoot Instamatic days...oh, my...does anyone remember Instamatic cameras?  I'm sure some of you must, I know there are people older than me in the world!   

look at those stitches!

no patterns, all free form

I do long for a shiny, new, digital rig with manual controls, so I know I'll get one someday - but in the meantime, the camera-phone is what I have, so I am content with it, and feel lucky for even that much.

takes my breath away...

the old Nikon I used to shoot my black and whites with is still on the closet shelf, being neglected, collecting dust.  I truly do miss film, though as an environmentalist, the chemicals I used to love to breath in the darkroom were of constant concern, and while I am still staunchly opposed to switching from 'photographer' to 'digital imager', I understand moving with the times or getting left behind.


so these shots are as 'close-up' as I can get without a Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR (what?) strapped onto a Nikon D600 digital SLR 24.3 megapixel camera body...maybe I'll put one of those 'tip jars' up on the blog, so my wealthy, anonymous readers can donate to the cause of having me post better pictures for the photo challenges!  a girl can dream, right?  but for the price of all that, I could have 2 or 3 of these dresses.  which would you rather have?

 Photo a day

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PaD #10 - emotion

I was having trouble with this one, so naturally I went overboard...











love ♥ 

Photo a day