Tuesday, June 30, 2009


It is a warm, sultry night. It must be ninety degrees, still.

Our cane rat (Bodie) has been jumping around like a wild thing. He is actually a schnauzer but looks suspiciously like some kind of rodent after his hair cut.

I have been thinking about the beach, again. Even though I was there for a week. I sit at my computer and I see my copper bowl of antique metal floats out of the corner of my eye, (the picture to the left) and it reminds me of the ocean.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blue Monday

Why do I feel blue on Monday when I don’t even have a job? It’s strange indeed and even though, I don’t care for the group the Carpenters,(not even a little), the truth is that rainy days and Mondays, do in fact, get me down. Here is a poem I wrote recently.


Grey Skies falling into blue

I dreamed of shadows

Black and dark

In sunlight I shivered


And crossed my arms

To ward away this chill

And face the fresh

Resplendent dawn

And leave the buried bones

To rest

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Idiots Guide

It’s Sunday and I’m happy to be home. I was ‘helping’ my husband with his job, but today it was slow and there wasn’t much to do. I used my time to read a new book I bought called, “The Idiots Guide to Getting Your Book Published.” They certainly reached their target audience with me.

I sat there gleaning helpful hints like, “Spend hours in your local bookstore, and also, hours online.” Sage advice but since I already do that every day, and no one has offered me a book deal, I question their wisdom.

They also suggested that I surround myself with writers. John Grisham lives in our city, maybe we can hang out. I’m pretty sure that this book is at least sixty percent nonsense. Since I am only halfway finished, I can’t be sure yet.

I printed out a copy of my novel in progress. Its 105 pages long. Still not long enough. I think some more people may have to die.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Odd Things That I Like

These were caught sitting around my house doing nothing but looking cute. (Mandy, do you recognize the pig?)

More artwork. The pictures are not very good but you can get an idea at least.

Ancient Chinese Secret

I have a kind of love hate relationship with the Chinese. I love their culture; particularly the ancient one but I really don't like their habit of poisoning baby formula and putting lead in children's toys, or, their oppressive politics. Still, when weighed side by side, I might have to set my feelings about the lead aside so that I may continue to enjoy the many unusual Chinese antiques and artifacts that I have picked up over the years without guilt.

My husband and I are at the beach this week and we drove by a shop called ‘Buddha's and Beads.' This was only a few minutes after I had just told him that I really wasn't into spending any money on this trip and that I was happy just to ride around and look. When I saw the shop with its prayer flags flying and its stone statues beckoning, I did a double take and almost got whiplash. I made him let me out of the car immediately. I grabbed fifty bucks and marched across the street and into paradise.

It was filled with every kind of material thing that I love. I wondered if was a heaven of sorts, maybe not ‘the heaven' but a lesser, more fun one. An older woman with dreadlocks said "hey" around a mouthful of French fries. It was hard to see her as the shop was brimming from top to bottom with treasures. Not a single surface was left un-ornamented. I took a deep breath and started scanning for what I was going to buy. If wasn't a question of if, but a question of how much I could get for my fifty dollars.

Nothing was priced which was maddening and I kept having to interrupt the woman who was lost in a kind of French fry reverie with her daughter and was not all that interested in my sudden, manic need to purchase something.

"What are these, I asked pointing to a row of little wooden statures?"

"Kitchen gods" she said in a laid back but matter of fact way.

"Kitchen gods, that's neat but I mean but what do they do?"

I was thinking about my collection of Buddha statues at home. I've been collecting them for a few years. I'm not a pack rat, I only have about twelve or so but each one is different. I'd never heard of a kitchen god before.

She said "well, I think they went in the kitchen and you put some kind of prayer in the back."

I looked and sure enough there was a little piece of paper shoved into the back of the carving and also a little wax seal to show that it was an old carving, not a new reproduction.

"We have repro stuff on the other side of the store if you want that kind of thing" she said lazily. I didn't, I wanted the real thing. I wanted a kitchen god that had been prayed to, at least once.

I picked them up and studied them all and finally found the one I wanted, a little figure, seated, the wood was worn in many places and the paint was peeling, giving it a charming, care worn effect.

There were also thousands of strands of beads, my other weakness. I combed through the mounds of agate and moonstone, amethyst and obsidian and took out two pretty strings.

I walked to the counter and said, "Look, I've got fifty bucks, what you can do on these three items?"

She said my fifty bucks would do just fine. I took my treasures and went back to the car where my husband was munching on caramel popcorn and sitting there in neutral. That's the mode he goes into when he knows he may have to wait for me for a very long time and there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

I started to think a bit about kitchen gods on the way home from the store. "You know, I said to Rob, I'll bet that the reason that all these statues are making their way to America has something to do with the fact that I eighty percent of China is now Christian, at least that's what I read, and I'll bet they think it's all voodoo stuff now."

He agreed that this was a plausible theory. I said "I'll bet that young Chinese people think of kitchen gods the way I think about the crocheted doilies and toilet paper holders that used to adorn my grandmothers house. They probably look at kitchen gods with great disdain and say things like, "there's grand mom, praying to those damn kitchen gods again."

I also had to wonder what kind of prayer a person would ask such a deity. "Please, don't let me burn the rice again tonight?" In that case, I definitely need a few kitchen gods, one for each appliance and maybe even one for the small toaster oven as well. Rob said that the kitchen god was probably there to bless all the food and ensure that it is free from any traces of MSG.

A few years ago I started collecting vintage Buddha statues from a young man who does the same antique show every year. He said they were Tibetan Buddha's. He knew surprisingly little about them. At first I took him to be Tibetan but then I realized that he was most likely Chinese. What I was sure of was the fact that he couldn't have cared less about what the particular statues meant. He would say something like, "This one's a sitting Buddha."

I would politely say, "Thanks for pointing that out."

Then he would say, "This one here has a bowl in his hand."

I would say, "Is it a begging bowl or a medicine bowl?" There are different meanings depending on the item held.

He would say, "This is a holding bowl Buddha." Then I would smile and buy it and the one next to it.

I have to wonder why I am more interested in Chinese culture than the Chinese. I suppose I ought to be erecting a shrine to NASCAR or McDonalds or a statue of a very white looking Jesus with blue eyes. Yes I probably should but it's not going to happen.

I also have a collection of Asian pottery as well. One large wine jug sits in our living room, it's from the nineteenth century and while it's spectacular to me, I think to the Chinese, it's just junk, slightly older junk but still junk all the same. I remember asking the dealer to tell me all about it as I shelled out two hundred and fifty dollars. He said, "It's a wine jug."

"Oh, I said, anything else?"

"It used to hold wine." He said.

I also have a pair of benches that were obviously used and then tossed out and then exported and sold to gullible people like me who have them standing in a corner as a work of art. "Don't sit on that bench" I say when I see someone getting near it, "It won't actually hold any weight and it's been repaired and the legs are uneven, and it's got a hole in the middle, but what a beautiful mystical thing it is, don't you think?"

I'm also captivated by eastern religion. I started studying Buddhism when I was in my teens and even though I am not a fully fledged Buddhist, it's the religion that I feel most comfortable with. You have to love someone who could utter a quote like this "If you don't think a small person can make a difference, than you have never slept with a mosquito." (The Dali Lama)

So, my battle rages on. I love the Chinese and then I hate them again. I wonder for example; why they won't leave Tibet alone, let it be its own nation with its own culture, and autonomy? I was also upset when I heard that the Chinese were buying American trash and turning it into brand new trash and selling it back to us again. I also despise the amount of useless crap that comes out of China. Lint brushes, plastic toothpick holders, sunglasses made from melted bottle caps, imitation sleeping cats made with real cat hair, sponges that disintegrate when allowed to touch the water, toothpaste made with a deadly adhesive. I could go on and on.

I think what I am trying to say here is that I like China the way it once was. Asian art and culture as it stood for thousands of years. Oh, but of course there was the whole oppression of women thing, I shouldn't really forget that and the whole tyranny and forced labor and all of that. I suppose that wasn't so good, but forget about that for a moment. I want to show you my authentic temple bell; it's made of real bronze and was once used to call the monks to meditation. If you ring it and listen very closely, you can almost hear the Chinese laughing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Almost Forgot!

Things I Like

Falling and Toilet Seats

It’s not the first time that I have noticed how askew the world is, but nothing brings that fact home like taking a spill across the asphalt and smashing into gravel. The view from that angle is not pretty at all, even though I had an up close and personal view of the grass, which, I suppose under different circumstances, might have been nice.

My husband took me home and patched me up and now I’m alright, but, it was not the most fun day ever.

Before I took that fall, I went to Lowes to return a toilet seat. Yes, that’s right. There is nothing more humiliating than falling on the asphalt while cars drive past and joggers glance briefly as you hit the dirt. Oh yes, nothing of course, except returning a toilet seat.

It turns out we didn’t need it. It was sitting around with other things that needed to be returned. Things that were left over from small repairs that we did on our house.

I was planning to take a nice drive out to Lowes to buy a few plants when my husband called to me from the other room. “Honey, will you return the toilet seat?” Of course, now the joy was gone. What started as a nice little trip for fun turned into a chore. I picked up the box, reluctantly, and took the long walk up stairs to get the receipt.

I put it in the car and glared at it. At least it was in a box. I kept my head down and skulked quietly to the customer service window.

Things went surprisingly well; no one stared at me, or made comments. The cashier didn’t call for assistance over the intercom and say, “Toilet seat return on aisle twelve." In fact, she was friendly, didn’t say anything sarcastic and didn’t sneer once. So really, in the end (no pun intended there), returning a toilet seat was no worse than returning anything else.

I thought that the most humiliating part of my day was over.

Silly me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Here are a few more.

Some paintings of mine. It's summer and these are very Summery.

Friday, June 19, 2009

K-Mart Hell

I'm not sure if there is a hell but if there is, you can be sure that it will be one long never ending K-Mart. The long corridors will be filled with many things. Useless items filling every shelf while the things you desperately need will be on eternal back order. "You want a drink of water? I'm sorry, it won't be in until the next shipment and that's been delayed. Would you care for some lighter fluid?"

It's been many years since I last entered a K-Mart but the other day I was looking for boxes. I wanted plastic storage containers and for some reason none of the local places had them at the right price.

When Rob and I used to live in the country, you couldn't swing a Redneck without hitting a Dollar Store. There were four in our local town. Dollar General, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree and Bottom Dollar (not sure about that last one). I've never been a fan of Dollar Stores but they do come in handy when there is nowhere else to shop.

Now that we live in the city I thought that finding storage boxes would be easy. I googled "General Dollar" only to find out there was not one in our entire city. It was ironic that the thing that I had once made fun of was now of value to me. "How can they not have a Dollar Store?" I said to Rob.

Target and Wal-Mart had containers of course but they were overpriced. I wasn't interested in paying an extra ten dollars each to get a ‘flamingo pink or ‘Caribbean sunrise blue' storage box. As I was driving back feeling deflated I saw the K-Mart sign and resigned myself and pulled into the parking lot.

We all know that K-Mart has been going downhill for a long time. Gone are the days when Rosie O'Donnell danced and sang the little K-Mart tune. In fact, since the rumor that they were going bankrupt had circulated I hadn't seen a single ad for K-Mart. If I hadn't seen the garish out of date red and blue sign I would never have known they were even still in business.

As I blipped the alarm on my car I looked up to see a large askew plastic sign that read "we now carry major appliances". It was sagging on one side and you had to turn your head to read it. When I walked through the apparently broken automatic door I was temporarily blinded by the flickering strobe like fluorescent lights. The place looked bare, stocked with only the essentials to keep people coming through the door. I saw some flaccid Mylar balloons in the corner and some potted plants, their undernourished, under watered petals languishing in the cold dead light.

An amazing thing happened; I found what I was looking for right away which was fortunate as there were no sales people to be seen. The price was 3.99 each and was by far the cheapest plastic boxes I have ever seen. The dull beige color didn't deter me. I wasn't planning to decorate my living room with them. The buzzing of the lights was making it hard to think so I acted as quickly as possible. I stacked up six of the containers, grabbed six lids and headed straight for the checkout.

In my car driving back I thought, maybe I've been too harsh on K-Mart. For that one, brief moment I even felt a little sorry for K-Mart. My next experience with the chain of evil would completely change my mind about them and also, unfortunately make me question the existence of a higher power for a little while.

I needed more containers. We are moving and I needed to keep up the momentum and try not to feel overwhelmed with the task.

I told Rob that I was just going to "nip" up to k-Mart. "I'll be right back" I said.

I was hopeful when I pulled into the parking lot. It was half empty like the other day so I thought I would be able to quickly get in and out without too much hassle. I went to the place where the boxes were the other day only to see a giant sumo wrestler sized version of the same container. You could have stored livestock in that thing. I tried to stop a K-Mart employee as she walked past but she ignored my cries. I said "MISS!" and she turned around and looked at me like I had called her ‘K-Mart Ho' or something.

"Miss, can you help me please, I was here a couple of days ago and I'm trying to find the small version of this container" I said pointing at the huge monolith standing before me.

She gave me a disinterested look and started walking again and called out over her shoulder "it's not my department; you will have to find someone else."

On a normal day this would really make me angry but today I just wanted to get the boxes and go. I spent about ten minutes walking down isle after isle of useless garbage. When I reached the appliances I saw two men standing around. I grabbed one of them and told them my story. "I'm sorry but we only have one left" he said. I saw the lonely box sitting there on the empty shelf and my heart sank.

"Can you please check in the back?" He shuffled past the neon trash cans and plastic palm trees and diaper bins and diapered behind a set of double doors. I waited another five minutes feeling as though I was going to be there forever, lost in limbo, in a land of cheap linens, plywood office furniture and off brand washing machines.

The man came out shaking his head no. "Sorry, none back there but we have a huge shipment coming in tomorrow and I have every hope that there are going to be more on the truck. They are on sale right now and that's why they are sold out".

"Thanks anyway" I said and I picked up the lone box and made the long and lonely trek to the front of the store. There seemed to be no one at the helm and I wandered aimlessly until I came upon an employee hiding behind a register.

"I'm closed she said". I wandered away and finally found an open register. The young girl had thin, straight hair and a pallid complexion. She looked into the distance with flat expressionless eyes.

"That will be 4.89" she said.

I was staring into space myself as the lights had caused my brain to short circuit. It was as if she was talking to me underwater. Suddenly I snapped back to full consciousness and I said, "Sorry, you've made a mistake, they were 3.99 and now I think they are on sale".

"Yeah she said. They are on sale for 4.50."

My dry eyes burned in the soul destroying light and I said "but two days ago they were 3.99."

She shrugged her shoulders and a skeletal blond girl with an eyebrow ring and a stud in her tongue called out to the girl who was supposed to be waiting on me. "Givth me a few dothlar and I'll go geth that dreth." I thought that she was impaired until I saw the tongue stud. My checker pulled some money out of her red and white apron emblazoned with the word "K-mart" on it.

"EXCUSE ME" I said. My checker looked back at me in surprise as though I had just sprouted out of the ground like a mushroom. "Can you please just ring me up" I said feeling my cheeks burn with rage.

My checker looked at the computer like it might try to bite her and she said "Sorry mamn, I don't know how to ring it in any different than what it tells me."

I asked her to get a manager but instead she sent the blond girl to the back of the store to check the price. I was starting to get that feeling, that feeling that I should just walk away before I give myself a coronary. It wasn't worth this for a stupid box, couldn't I see that? My stubbornness had kicked in and I just couldn't walk away now. I was going to buy this box and I was going to pay 3.99. I didn't care if I had to start hitting her over the head with her scanner to make it happen.

After another five minutes the blond girl came back. "I thould you ith 4.50, thath whath the sign sayth."

"Get the manager I said, just get them, get them, get them."

The sickly acne covered girl flicked a button that made the sign above her register start to flash. I wondered if it was a warning sign, a security call but it turned out, it was to let the manager know that someone needed help. I stood there rooted to the spot. I so desperately wanted to go but I had invested too much time now. I wasn't leaving without my 3.99 box and I wasn't going to make it easy.

About five more minutes passed and the two girls resumed their conversation about the dress when a short man approached wearing what looked like a whistle around his neck with the word's K-Mart printed over and over on the ribbon holding it. He looked like a very small referee.

"Can I help you Mamn?" There was a glint in his eye. The kind that said, I can tell you are trouble. How low will I have to stoop to make you go away? The kind that said, I was made for better things than this. What happened to make me sink this low? Why didn't I go to college like my Mama urged, why didn't I at least go to trade school and become a plumber or something, anything.

I know that's a lot to get from a single glint but I'm just telling you what I saw. If I had had the unfortunate opportunity of seeing myself at that moment it wouldn't have been pretty either.

For starters, I was really hot. I had worn a down vest and it was about ninety degrees in this God forsaken torture chamber death trap. Sweat was running down my arms, gathering around my armpits and making me feel damp and uncomfortable. My hair was wild looking from a gust of wind that had almost knocked me off my feet as I was making my way to the building.

I turned to the young man with my hot sweaty face and narrowed scrunched up eyes and said "listen, I was here two days ago and these boxes were 3.99. I came back to get more and they only have one left and it's supposed to be on sale and now it's 4.50?"

"That's right" he said, it's a discontinued item.

"But the sale price is more than the regular price."

"Well, we aren't getting any more of these in; this is the last of them."

This was clearly Satan logic, with the sole purpose of making my head implode.

I gave him a tight lipped smile and said "how can something be more expensive when it's on sale?"

"Uh, well, I guess that price was kinda like a sale price and now it's a different price, but I tell you what, I'll give it to you for 3.99, how's that?"

I hadn't heard him at first because I had been daydreaming about stuffing his lifeless body into one of those refrigerator sized boxes I had seen at the back of the store. No one would ever find him back there I thought. "Sure I said out loud, whatever."

The manager left and the next ten minutes were spent trying to help the young girls try to figure out how to override the sale. The manager had to come back again and after approximately thirty five minutes of my life that I will never see again, I had saved .50 cents.

I grabbed my box, looking savage and wild eyed. The young check out girls had begun talking again about the dress and I just shook my head and started to make the long trek out. "Thorry" was all I heard as I marched towards the broken doors and then to freedom.