The Tales of Mother (and the) Goose Wednesday, Sep 21 2011 


I often think, speak, and write in analogies. It’s just the way I am, and it helps me to make sense of things around me especially when life gets a little chaotic. The other morning while sipping coffee on the balcony, a tiny little hummingbird flew up to me, hovered about five feet in front of me for about 15 seconds and then flew away. We looked at each other and for once I did not attempt to take a picture for fear of scaring off the little creature. I was Quick Draw McGraw on the symbolism according to Google however and posted my discovery on Facebook to share:

A hummingbird just flew up to me on the balcony & stared at me for about 15 seconds so I googled symbolism: timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances. Right On!! Today is MY day, suckas!!

I’ve never seen hummingbirds near my new little castle, and it’s not like I was wearing a big red hummingbird feeder costume to entice some new little creature into my blogging realm. As I continued my research and delved into all things hummingbird related, I also discovered that the sprite little creatures also represent perseverance. Have you ever realized that unlike other birds who can just glide and coast through the air, the hummingbird must constantly beat its little wings to stay aloft? That’s like people too, isn’t it? For some people, at certain times, things just seem to come easy to them allowing them to coast through life while others must swiftly and continuously flutter their wings to keep from falling. Somewhere in my reading, I found some theories that spoke to me that morning and talked about savoring the Nectar of Life. These tiny birds are constantly beating their wings, but they are also capable of hovering in place in order to take their time and savor their nectar. Their ability to fly backwards can show us how we may all be able to look back on our past in order to learn from it yet not hover and dwell on it forever. I’ve never seen a hummingbird ONLY fly backwards! I want to be like a hummingbird!! And if I were ever to get a tattoo, it would be a hummingbird. (But I won’t. Because I don’t like needles. Or permanent body art that could sag and morph with an aging body. And because I’d be embarrassed if 30 years from now someone looked at my sweet little misshapen bird and mistook it for a vulture once everything stretched out and spread.) That hummingbird was a MESSENGER bird and my Google app said so!!

I carried on with my day and headed into The Shop with an extra spring in my step despite the dreary weather and Monday blahs that float about and seem to hover over so many people. I call our store, “The Shop” because that’s simply what we’ve called the beauty and cosmetic business for 50 years now, but I like to think of it as The Family Dynasty and since I run a lot of the daily business that makes me The Empress. All the women on Mama’s side of the family have worked there at one time or another – my grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins, sisters – and drama is the norm as in the televsion version of Dynasty. As I was covering some of the menial duties that should really fall onto servants and perhaps some day will, Mama scurried into the store with her OWN bird tale from that morning. She was visibly shaken and her feathers were all in a ruffle as she recounted what had happened to her while walking along the seawall that morning.

It seems somewhere along her route, Mama encountered a flock of geese. Assuming they were harmless and that she herself appeared friendly and non-threatening to all of God’s creatures, she continued along the walking path and approached their ground. THAT’S when all hell broke loose. According to Mama, the birds began squawking and the flock of furious feathered fowl chased her! Mama got flustered and sped up to no avail. Apparently there was a ringleader in the bunch and as it closed the gap between the group and Mama, she quickly responded like any modern-day woman would and threatened it with the pepper spray attached to her key chain. By threaten, I mean she screamed because it was doubtful that the goose would have been worldly enough to simply catch a glimpse of her unsnapping the spray and been all like, “WHOA!!! We picked the WRONG mama to screw with! This wild-eyed crazy bitch is armed with SPRAY! And that’ll burn my eyes and throat sumpin’ FIERCE! This goose is COOKED!” No. Uh-uh. Holding out the menacing mace in a threatening manner and screaming at it to move did NOT work on the flock, and unfortunately Mama couldn’t get the little twisty nozzle to twist open. God help her because the curious fisherman watching the spectacle most certainly did NOT. She did her best to racewalk like an Olympian with full on hip swinging and arm pumping and managed to escape the menacing bunch and seek shelter in her car with the doors LOCKED I’m sure for added protection. This is the point in the story that Mama came to the conclusion that the foul ringleader was RABID. She watched it fly out onto the lake after the group retreated and feels pretty confident that its feathers were all astray like a MAD goose’s feathers would be. “Oh. Dear. God,” thought Mama when she next realized what was happening; the other geese had TURNED on the ringleader and were trying to peck it to death. There is no way Mama could be wrong about this either because she saw it happen with her own two eyes and surmised that the other geese had realized the rabid nature of their leader and turned on it. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” thought Mama and smugly watched its evil demise as she rounded the corner to retreat to her own side of the lake.

I relayed the account of the attack to my friends on Facebook and even posted a couple of pictures of Mama telling her bird tale as a follow-up post to MY morning encounter with MY bird. The whole bit was ridiculous really and had turned into a farce of sorts as people made their suggestions as to what they thought was the significance of our separate encounters. One friend pondered that perhaps my messenger bird had been sent to warn me of Mom’s impending attack. Maybe. Could be. Who knows. I didn’t throw out all the crumbs of information to my own flock of Facebook followers at the time though.

What many people don’t know is that my mother is an amputee. Just a few years after my father died suddenly, Mama was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive form of cancer. In layman’s terms, a cancer of the sweat gland in the heel of her foot caused her to lose a portion of her leg below the knee. She rarely limps, never opted for any handicapped type parking permit, and people who meet her or even see her walk have no idea that she has this disability. She wears pants and long skirts and boasts a collection of cute little Mary Jane shoes that work for her and keep her in step with the fashion forward set for the most part. What she cannot do – and really has no desire to do – is run… EXCEPT when she’s been chased by a rabid goose. When she was telling us about her real life re-enactment of The Birds, she said that when her pepper spray failed to flip open, she quickly had to think of another option should she not be able to out pace the flock. Never one to just simply sit back and take things as they come, Mama devised a plan whereby if 1 or more geese were to get within brain or eye pecking distance, she would use what the good Lord had given her…. and beat hell out of the birds using her artificial leg as a club. Better not mess with THIS Mother, Goose!!!! I wonder what the by standing fisherman would have done if THAT scenario had actually played out?!

Mama left the store shortly after her tale and returned with a brand new purple can of mace. She was a little disheartened to learn from the clerk at the police supply store that the spray may not turn a goose into a quivering heap like it would for a HUMAN attacker since geese are not capable of inhaling the fumes in quite the same way that a boogeyman would. That’s OK. Mom is up to the challenge. She will aim directly at the offenders eyes taking especially careful aim if a predator is of the non-human variety. I will not be surprised if I pull around to the back of the house and find her practicing her shot in the wood pile while properly choreographing her ninja-like moves and KAY-YA noises in preparation for her next encounter. She will NOT stop walking the seawall because of geese nor will she let the mockingbird types keep her down.

I warned the kids that night to stay away from Mimi’s new purple can and that it will burn their eyes like fire if they even get anywhere near it which means that I have also relayed the two vastly different bird encounters of that day to them as well. Sometimes, kids say things that really help you to see things in a whole new light and shock you with their simplistic wisdom. As we talked about what I had Googled relating to hummingbirds and Mama’s big adventure, my daughter made a pretty insightful analogy. She recently auditioned for the lead roles in The Little Mermaid and drew a couple of parallels. She won’t be playing her dream role of Ariel, but she WILL get to play a mermaid and isn’t that like the “miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances” as I had copied to my Facebook status that morning?? And HEY!! What about how the three of us installed our very own wireless modem and wireless printer ALL BY OURSELVES without calling anyone to help us?!! That is a HUGE accomplishment and people would never have thought we’d be able to do THAT if they’d seen the two-hour long drama that preceded it.

Really, it wasn’t until late that night while sitting on the balcony and listening to the frogs that I was able to recall the events of the day and put them into perspective. Tons of analogies flew straight into my brain while I pondered what I’d observed and learned from the day. I think I’m fortunate. In fact, I think I’m incredibly fortunate, and I’m also very grateful. I think life’s circumstances can vary so much from year to year but your outlook on life is what can make or break you. Sometimes that outlook is learned from the families we were born into or the people we choose to fly with. I think we can even learn valuable lessons from people with whom we choose NOT to associate. The geese in Mama’s story were the aggressors, and I know plenty of those types, but I also remember what my dad used to tell me about geese that relates to how we are as a family. Daddy taught me that geese fly in V formation. The lead bird at the point of the formation has a tough position. His job is tiring while the geese that follow benefit from the upwash of his position allowing them to reduce air resistance and better glide. The birds take turns leading the formation to reduce fatigue, and I guess that’s also how the birds in this family flock fly as well. We stick together, keep each other in our sights, and take over the tough exhausting positions when it’s our turn. We’ll squawk and honk at you too if you hang back and try to coast on our efforts for too long though so everyone has to toe the line.

Birds of a feather flock together.

There’s always more to every story, and there’s more to mine that not everyone knows as well. Just as Mama had a very rare type of cancer, I too was diagnosed and overcame cancer. Mine was an extremely rare cancer of the eye that was diagnosed when I was 6 and resulted in me losing my left eye. Not all mother-daughter-duos battle the odds and get brand-spankin’-new body parts custom-made for them either do they? It’s another way that we are unique. Mom’s cancer and recovery occurred while she was an adult so she had to adjust to new ways of doing every-day things and living while mine is just something that I grew up adjusting to so I can’t tell you that I’ve ever known anything different. I suppose people could look at both situations and make their own determination about which situation would be worse, but again I think it’s all about perspective. I sat through a law class one time in college when the professor used an example to illustrate personal damages in a way that stunned me. He was a wonderful teacher who had NO CLUE about my personal circumstances and neither did the rest of the class. He proposed a scenario whereby we had just gotten into a class fight and someone lost an eye from a hurled piece of chalk and the class was challenged to discuss all the damages and reparations that could possibly result from being left with a life long disability. Assumptions were thrown out and even tasteless jokes only because they had NO idea that I lived with the “disability” they were describing. At nineteen, with my whole life ahead of me, I silently sat and listened to people describe what my life SHOULD have been like; freakish looking, would never be found attractive therefore limited ability to date, marry and have kids. One guy actually suggested that he would rather die and no amount of damages could be awarded to appease him. Certainly anyone without any depth perception could never compete in sports and some of these kids did and would have a limited set of skills that would hinder future jobs and earning potential. It was pretty grim and the jokes weren’t really funny, but after Dad did his best to console me that afternoon my perception changed and more depth was added to my character. I decided that I was pretty lucky to have the positive outlook and family support with which I had been blessed. Those poor little shits must not have come from a family that teaches you that when rabid geese attack, don’t lay down and die just because you can’t run!! Pull off your custom-made state-of-the-art artificial leg and BEAT THE FIRE OUT OF ‘EM!!!

I think that hummingbird WAS a messenger. It’s appearance set the tone for that Monday – a day that is sometimes easy to just coast mindlessly through while wishing for the far off weekend. I started my day actively looking for what it was that God must have meant for me to see. I have no way of knowing what I was supposed to have learned, but maybe I didn’t even HAVE to learn anything. Maybe the point was just to recognize the joy in the little things in my life right now. They are everywhere and most anything can bring on an appreciative grin or even belly busting laugh if I look at it right. I know that philosophy isn’t always easily maintained, so I’m going to do my best to be like the hummingbird and persevere while savoring the nectar. There’s ALWAYS some there and I just have to remember to look for it.

Advertisements

Beauty & The Bee Thursday, Jun 30 2011 


This summer my daughter attended a summer arts camp for budding young artists in the area, and an open house exhibit was held last night for all of the proud parents/paparazzi. I had been hearing all month about her creations, and her paint splattered clothes were evidence that she was truly and perhaps madly inspired. She is a fashionista and likes to design her own attire, so I am not going to lie. It crossed my mind a time or two that the clothes were splattered on purpose and when I arrived, I scoped out the exhibits and backdrops for very specific colors on the spectrum that I myself had scrubbed from her wardrobe. We just threw out the fabric SPRAY PAINT here since my walls have been shaded a nice Caribbean Blue by her talented apprentice/younger brother so this suspicion was not totally out of reach.

The big piece I had been dying to see was a large chess piece sculpture created from a glass jug, paper mache, plastic plates, styrofoam balls, and of course paint. Someone drank A LOT of wine to have emptied those jugs, yet I had not even been called. I would have volunteered my services for such a worthy cause if only I’d been asked. The day she came home and described to me her theme for this series was a proud one. She envisioned a series of chess pieces created around insects. Her first inspiration was “To be… a bee” and it was not a question. A queen bee represented her personality well and would not be too difficult or time-consuming to create in the amount of studio time she had alloted. Her second idea? A spider as a king piece. Why? Because it might easily freak out her brother should she sneak it into his bedroom in the middle of the night. Her third and final vision was my favorite though admittedly would have been difficult to construct. This masterpiece was conceived around the bishop figure for her class’s game board, and when she asked me to guess what insect would represent this piece, she folded her hands together and bowed her head. A PRAYING MANTIS was to serve as the bishop. That’s MY girl!! Take a bow, Honey! You have come a long way from the little thumbprint butterflies you made for me and have left a print on my soul that is as unique and individual as your creations.

She attended classes in 3-D sculpture, 2-D sculpture, and Cartoons & Comics this summer and had art on display from all of them last night in the gymnasium. She had constructed a board game with a heavenly theme and little angel game pieces where the object was to get into the gates of Heaven. Too bad the corner broke off as she was running away with it from Brother today. The poor little devil. She sculpted a giant Tetris game piece constructed of tin foil and blue water colors that we have discovered STAIN and may induce my own “Blue Period” if I discover it on my walls next to last week’s Caribbean Blue fabric paint. My little Picasso hand painted a set of dice and a hot pink and orange set of game tiles that were displayed with her cute little age and name for all the other parents and family members to see. We took pictures of her last night in all her glory standing in front of her maze she had designed, colored and hung. We were struck by her refusal to follow suit with her deck of cards picture in that she chose to draw a princess “like her” instead of a queen and decorated all fours corners with green shamrocks for luck instead of traditional black clubs. It was a proud night for all of us as this summer has been one of change, but our little family and the pride we show has remained a constant even though we may have joined a different club in the statistics. (more…)

My Steel Magnolias Thursday, Jun 23 2011 


It’s been raining for a few days straight here, and as I sat on the balcony drinking coffee this morning I got to thinking about friends. And the term “fair weather” friends. This morning’s coffee comes courtesy of a Frosty mug. (Not like it’s spiked or anything since people usually think of beer being served in frosty mugs. Totally sober here. For real.) I won this mug at a bunko game back when we actually PLAYED bunko. Looking at Frosty, as I have now named him since he is a snowman and I am  clever, gives me a toasty, warm and fuzzy feeling because he makes me think about My Girls. Now we just get together at a restaurant. And rest. And rant. Usually we talk about what’s going on with who and laugh over cocktails. Bunko has kind of become like the game Marco Polo because there isn’t really any rhyme or reason to when it gets called. Sometimes I call bunko when I can’t really “see” things right and want to reach out to my girls. Don’t look for a picture of the Bunko Girls yet. I doubt I’d get that many women to agree on one picture where everyone’s hair looks nice and nobody thinks they look fat. Check out Frosty below mugging for the camera though. He’s sitting there for me, with the dark clouds behind him and the communication tower of some kind just off in the distance. Don’t correct me if I’m wrong about that big thing either. Because then I’ll look stupid and the rest of this won’t make sense so just go with me here.

Even on rainy days when the sun isn’t so bright, I can send out a signal to some girlfriends and see who’s up for a game. I don’t always hear back from all of them, but that doesn’t mean I should assume they are fair weather friends. They just may not be able to communicate what they’re thinking when the clouds are blocking the signals. Some people may actually be those fair weather friends, I guess, and don’t want to get out in the storm lest their hair frizz. I get that too. I know I don’t always want to walk around with frizzy hair either. Occasionally, most of us do put on our hats and stylish rain boots though and just prepare for a bad hair day. Donning that rubbery soled footwear and choosing to brave the storms to help out a friend can be good for the soul. I’m speaking in metaphors here, but sometimes girlfriends can just appreciate a really great pair of shoes too, and it’s as simple as that!

“I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.”

– Steel Magnolias

I could go on and on and onandonandonandon with the Steel Magnolia quotes since it’s one of my total faves, but Annelle says that to Truvy in the beauty shop when she’s trying to explain some of the gossip around town regarding her past. It’s really none of their business. The girl wants a job and wants to prove she can be professional. I love it!  I think I may be looking for a job myself with this writing gig, but I also see it as a shout out to my girls to let them know that I’ll be there for them even if I have other things going on myself.  And all of us will always have good hair! You know, I went to high school in the same town that Steel Magnolias was filmed. From what I’ve heard, that scene from the beauty shop was filmed at the home of a school employee. I went to a school for the “gifted and talented.” Some girls, that SOMEHOW I never managed to talk to at that high school, have become GREAT friends now and encouraged me to share my “gift” and “talent.” They’ve been a gift for ME for sure. Perhaps they saw my knack for writing and forecasted the rainy days to come in the present. We connected through Facebook, and I have gotten to know some of them really well. Lovely ladies – all of them gifted. You don’t have to attend a school like that however to discover your own gifts. We all have them. My writing didn’t start until one week ago. That gift sat in a box I guess, like moving boxes often do, and I just now dusted it off and unpacked it. Maybe I didn’t see it because this particular box wasn’t wrapped up in the sparkly kind of paper I love. There wasn’t even a ribbon. (more…)

The Dynasty Friday, Jun 17 2011 


So this is what writers do, right? WRITE.

A new chapter in my life has started. I bet “real” writers have a desk instead of a make-up vanity which is what I use now to write. It works for me though, and I can’t complain. I moved into a little apartment with the kids and left behind quite a bit. What is here is CHERISHED.

This vanity belonged to my great grandmother – my father’s grandmother. It’s one of only two furnishings I took from my “old” bedroom. Times have changed and I sit here now on a laptop computer writing a BLOG. There are 3 words in that sentence that didn’t even exist when this was MaMaw’s. I wonder what she would have thought – of me, where I’ve been and where I intend to go. Would sitting down to write and publish your thoughts and actions to the rest of the world have been considered the epitomy of VANITY at that time? Perhaps. Maybe it still is. I do know this though; It’s time to do something for ME. Label it what you will. And put some glitter on that label too. I’m feelin’ kinda sparkly now, so let’s keep it real.

I never put the old mirror that attaches onto MaMaw’s table back at the “old” house. It blocked my window, so I left it off. The symbolism THERE isn’t missed. I had a window to look out and see all that was going on around me yet left off the mirror – the window into my soul. I KNOW!!! I’m pretty freakin’ deep, RIGHT?!? It would’ve been warped anyway. That glass is old and the way I was seeing things was distorted as well. That mirror still sits in my closet back at the house. Look out world! I’m dusting it off and bringing it out. “I’M coming OUT” I hum to myself.

(more…)