Friday, December 31, 2010

Buckle up! The train of thought can't stay on track.

One evening I was bored so I began to follow tweeted links and ended up at an interesting article, “Slow Down,” over at The Beautiful Brain. It was a little write-up about how our perception of time can be distorted when we watch a slow-motion scene in a movie. It included a video montage which only took a few seconds to watch.

One of the links on the side of the webpage caught my eye, as it looked more interesting, “The Neuroscience of Avatar.” Gustav Klimt's "The Tree of Life" decorated the article.

I began to wonder about Gustav Klimt. If this was a painting of THE biblical Tree of Life, then who were the people in front of the tree? A couple seemed to be locked in embrace as another woman watched jealously from the other side of the canvas. From deep in the prison of my memory escaped the name, “Lilith.” I was off to search for more information about Lilith and Adam, and Adam and Eve. I had no idea that Lucifer himself might be a vertex in a love triangle.

On my way to the first couple, the other first couple, I found a web page warning of racism in the Talmud and then another site that explained the purpose of the Talmud. Midrash. Why don’t we have that? It would answer at least one of the questions posed by Legion over at the Victoria Advocate Online. Of course, answering that question would give us many more.

Back to triangles and The Tree of Life. If that was Lilith, she was clothed mostly in triangles while Adam and Eve were robed in geometrical shapes, mostly circles. The ground contained circular shapes; the branches of the tree coiled around and around... Lilith was not from the earth like the tree and Adam and Eve.

Speaking of circles and embrace, Henri Matisse was born on this date.

Anyway, back to that night: That night I had a dream about a painting similar to Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

In my dream, the woman was made of water. Two men, not just the one with the pitchfork, were standing beside her with a look of malcontent. A love triangle? It was inspired by the occupants of the painting, The Tree of Life. I am not grasping the point of the dream.

The song from the video montage was beautiful. If you didn't watch the video montage earlier in this post, please listen to the song: Sigur Ros "Staralfur."

Another song that was in my head around this time was "Lunatic Fringe." Red Rider - Lunatic Fringe According to Wikipedia, "The song was inspired by a book about humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg and is about the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1970s." I figured it reminded me of the religious and political debates over at The VicAd - and myself as I feel I'm sort of on the fringe, at least when it comes to education.

And here is another song written by Tom Cochrane, the man who wrote "Lunatic Fringe," Life Is A Highway - Rascal Flatts Official Music Video

Be safe out there and Happy New Year!

Sylvester the Cat

Our family cat, Sylvester, enjoys Yoga throughout the day. His favorite position is a very sloppy interpretation of the shavasana also known as the corpse pose. He can maintain this zen like solitude for hours. So deep are his thoughts that he sometimes slips into an unconscious state. I can only imagine the thoughts that are scurrying through his mind.

Cats sometimes remind me of Greek philosophers in the same way that dogs do not. It baffles me that Sylvester hasn't figured out that humans can't see in the dark and that I don't have X-ray vision. I've tripped over him several times while carrying overflowing laundry baskets.

I have a theory that cats are masochists. I came to this conclusion after Sylvester, who is always dressed in a tuxedo, gave up Yoga to court me. For two days he followed me around, forced his head under my hand so that he could simulate being pet, and purr-meowed every time our eyes met. Coincidentally (I think not) his food bowl had been empty. This can only mean that “cat people” are unwitting sadists. I’m forgetful so cats naturally love me.

When Sylvester isn’t engaged in Yoga, meditation, or sunbathing in the shade, he enjoys chasing string and playing soccer with marbles or lone tinker toys. He really enjoyed the time the kids tied a long piece of yarn to one of the blades of the ceiling fan. That kept him dizzy, I mean busy, for awhile. Yes, additional proof that cat people are sadists.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Coffee Infused Memories

My love affair with coffee began when I was a little girl. My best friend and grandmother started out her day with one cup of coffee. I loved the flavor of coffee because she always had coffee flavored ice-cream and coffee flavored candy in her home.

“D-mom’s” home on Sylvan Oaks (?) in San Antonio was the one place I longed to be. Not because of the coffee, of course, but because I knew that my grandmother loved me and that she loved me unconditionally. When I stayed the night at her house, I woke up each morning to the warm fragrance of fresh coffee. I would follow the scent down the long hallway towards the kitchen where I was greeted with an enthusiastic, “There she is!”

With memories and associations like that, you better believe that I wake up excited and ready for my coffee each morning.

My oldest son enjoyed staying the night with my "D-mom" just as much as I did when I was a child. When we were little (we were not little at the same time you understand) we both had to be pulled away from our D-mom's house kicking and screaming. He called her "D-mom" too. There are probably twenty people in Victoria, Texas, who referred to her as "D-mom."

I could call her on the phone and chat with her like we were high school girlfriends. I could share my opinions and she wouldn’t hesitate to tell me that I was wrong. (She didn't agree with my decision to homeschool my children.) That unconditional love coupled with honest and gentle chastisement helped keep me balanced.

We shared a cup of coffee once or twice a week until she passed away a few years ago. I think of her every morning and throughout the day.

I didn’t mean to type all of that. I was writing about some of the changes in our home since my husband and my oldest son returned from Europe. It had to do with how my husband has started to drink tea instead of coffee. The mention of coffee stranded me on Memory Lane.

She would be ok with my husband's mutinous preference for tea. I know this because she would have been thrilled that they were able to go to Europe. She would be proud that my son is saving up his money so that he can go back.

She always told us that we were "baked in the squat."

I'll post the post-Europe post later...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Karaoke with Jewel (link)

The other day my daughter asked me a question. “MOM YOU KNOW THE SINGER JEWEL?” (I typed it in the exact same style as I heard it.)

My children ask lots of questions and this was one of the most random.

She repeated, “YOU KNOW THE SINGER JEWEL?” She was obviously setting up context.

Her question made me think of the Singer Mansion and a big diamond like The Heart of the Ocean diamond from the movie, Titanic.

Then, I remembered April, a friend who rode and showed Arabian horses with me and how she and her family had moved away from Port Lavaca to Arizona. They had visited the Singer Mansion. She had written me about it. We were pen pals for awhile. I recalled a picture she had sent me of her with her big teased blond hair sitting together in the back of a limo. They were on their way to a Motley Crue concert. I was so jealous. She was younger than me and I wasn’t allowed to go to concerts. She also had bigger hair. Why is it that everyone who moves away always seems to have a better life? Bigger hair. Where is the Singer mansion? The Singer jewel?

So, I responded to my daughter’s question with, “The Singer jewel? Is the Singer mansion in Arizona? I bet it’s a really big diamond!”

My daughter gave me a confused look and my husband said something like, “Unbelievable,” as he began to walk away. My daughter remembered that she was talking to her mother so she hummed a tune from a song made famous by the singer, Jewel, and then it all made sense to me.

“Oh! the singer, Jewel. Yes, what about her?”

Sometimes I like to blame a head injury for my "ding dong" mom moments, but then I remember that even BEFORE the car wreck people had always apologized to me after telling blonde jokes in my presence. I wasn't blonde.

Anyway, all that so she could tell me about this:

Undercover Karaoke with Jewel

(I didn't tell her that I had seen it before.)

Where is the Singer mansion? Maybe it was the Hoover mansion? The Hoover Dam?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Confessions of a Former Hooker

“Open confession is good for the soul,” or maybe “There are things to confess that enrich the world, and things that need not be said.”

Confession is good for the soul but I wonder how much information is too much information when it comes to confessions on our local logosphere. Scottish proverb or Joni Mitchell?

I figure we all have a past, some shadier than others.

My shady past began during my childhood. Times were tough when I was growing up. Once or twice a year we were faced with the daunting challenge of getting a hundred bales of hay from the flatbed trailer into the second story loft of the barn. This required everyone to take on a specialized task. My job was usually that of the “hooker.”

As “hooker” I stood in the opening of the barn loft with my hook in hand ready to pierce the bale of hay as it was hoisted up and swung in my direction. It was the “swingers” job to cause the bale to swing towards and away from the opening of the loft. I had to learn to use that momentum to strategically guide the bale into the loft. If I didn’t accomplish my goal as the bale was swinging towards me I had to quickly let go of the hook or else I would leave the loft still attached to the bale. Once the bale was hooked and pulled into the loft the person behind me neatly stacked the bales – I was probably “stacker” too.

I didn’t weigh much more than a bale of hay so I am not sure how I defied the laws of physics to avoid falling to my death. Looking back I wonder if my parents had it out for me.

The greatest reward, besides completing the task, was finally getting to play with the rope and two-story-high pulley. You can imagine the rappelling that took place.

At the time, I hated growing up in the country: it’s where I developed my skill of artfully avoiding manual labor. Looking back, I realize that the chores I hated the most while growing up now provide me with my fondest and my most rewarding memories.

It hurts to confess that to my mom.

My sister recently confessed to me that while in the Navy she was a “stripper” aka deck hand, so I’m not the only one in my family with a shady past!

Maybe Peter De Vries, “Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff—it is palliative rather than a remedy.” Also, the “stoned by popcorn” quote is fun.

Originally posted August 31, 2010 Here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chasing Zen

I miss running. I compare running to psychotherapy. I remember thinking during one of my sessions that if it weren’t for my evening treatments I would be clinically insane. I love that alternate state that is reached after ignoring all cries of “are we there yet?” from the body. Only after the messages from the physical are hushed can communing with the subconscious begin. Is that “Zen” or “Nirvana?” Fasting only faster?

Well, one leg injury and six years of snowballing emotions and shallow introspections later, I think I’m insane.

But, there is some good news for us all. Last night hubby and I hit the trail. I thought we were there for a romantic stroll when he asked, “Think you are ready to run?” I felt like a parakeet who had been given permission to leave the cage. I’m very competitive so if hubby is jogging I have to jog faster. I won’t stop until hubby stops. Eventually, I was covered in sweat, doubting the effectiveness of P90X -- this only after a few steps. How is it that I can get through an hour of Plyometrics but only jog for a few minutes before I am physically spent?

After my injury I did walk in the evenings, but the rewards weren't the same. Walking takes you out of yourself only as far as nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear the cicadas and watch the setting sun, like Midas, touch and turn the landscape into gold, and smell what people are cooking for supper… A few of you were BBQing last night and one was playing Tejano music. I'm Czech so Tejano feels like home.

I want an escape that’s deeper; one that transcends time. Will I ever reach that sacred place again?

This morning when I woke up I could walk without pain. So, if I can have patience, there’s hope. My lack of patience is what caused my injury in the first place.

I look forward to being able to bring my everyday problems, stresses, and wounds to that invisible spacetime in the universe to be assured of how insignificant they really are.

I miss running.

I'm chasing running.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Love at First Sight

I want to talk with you about love at first sight. I’m not talking about romantic love. I’m talking about a type of love that results from when your soul recognizes itself in another. A love that won’t die even though you know you will never see him again. The vision unreachable; a soul-mate found and lost in one day. Your gut wrenches and the artist is born to safely channel the feelings.

I’ve experienced this type of love once in my life. The first time I saw him he was standing in the sun. His temper matched his fiery red hair. He was intelligent, melodramatic, and tricky --and I was in love. I understood him. I related.

His trainer said that he was one of the meanest horses she had dealt with. My mom told me that he was too young and too green for me. Green? He was a chestnut! I remember staring at him as he stood in the round pen resting from giving someone hell.

We drove home from Seguin to Port Lavaca without Ibn. But I was melodramatic and stubborn too. I cried for Ibn. I drew pictures of Ibn. I wrote stories about Ibn.

Our discussion of love at first sight ends right where our discussion of fate begins. Do you believe in fate?

Fast-forward a year or so to my eleventh birthday. No one showed up to my birthday party. The lady who taught me horseback riding lessons pulled up to our house hauling a horse trailer. Guess who was inside? Fate.

My mom had learned that someone in Port Lavaca had bought Ibn and that they were ready to get rid of him. He was living up to his name.

(I explained the meaning of his full name in my previous post.)

I don’t remember IBN as mean. I remember him as my best friend. I could relate to horses better than I could relate to people. People wounded and horses healed.

He was playful. Before he would let me catch him and halter him he would run about fifty tight circles around me as fast as he could with his head in the air, his nostrils flared, and his tail over his back. He may have been three-quarters Arabian but he acted like he was 150% Arab.

I told you that he was Rebecca-trained. He responded to my voice commands as quickly as to my physical cues. I could jump on him and tell him to “canter” and he would go from a stand-still to a lope in one movement. He wouldn’t do that for anyone else. I also trained him to bow and to rear on command. He was a fast learner and an even better teacher.

We were soul mates.


I don’t know if “fate” is the best word up there but it is shorter than destiny. I'm too lazy to look up the right word. I was also too lazy to saddle Ibn and I usually rode him bareback and barefooted with just a halter.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Missing Horses

I loved horses as a little girl. I was collecting model horses and constructing stalls and fences out of pieces of wood when other little girls were playing with Barbie. Ok, I was playing with Barbie too, only I was trying to help her ride my Breyer horses. Her legs wouldn’t bend the right way and she always sat a horse cockeyed. Barbie made Breyer's Clydesdale look like Breyer's Shetland pony. Barbie was far from perfect.

I fell in love with The Black in the Sears catalog and named him, Cass Ole, before I was sure he was my Christmas present. Even my favorite celebrities were horses.

I had a Shetland pony named Charlie Boy and eventually I graduated to a three-quarters Arabian named, IBN. “Ibn” means “son of” in Arabic and his full name was Ibn Sharamoot. (Don’t look that up unless you want to get schooled in Arabic profanity.)

Ibn was "Rebecca-trained" and extremely versatile. He could run barrels and poles, and go from Western Pleasure to Hunter Hack. We won high-points at horse shows. He didn’t wait for my cues in pleasure classes; when the announcer said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please trot your horses,” Ibn would assume the gait. Like I said, he was Rebecca-trained --and I was a mouthy little girl. I was also a one horse girl.

During my teen years the horse bug had morphed into a pesky fly as our love wasn’t strong enough to withstand my hatred of back-breaking labor in triple digit heat. Plus, it was more fun to chase boys than it was to chase horses. (I couldn't outrun horses but I was faster than all the boys.)

My knight in shining armor would not be a cowboy. I wanted to get away from horses.

I have been horse free for almost nineteen years. But, for the past two days I’ve had to “cowgirl up” and live the life I thought my husband had rescued me from: back-breaking labor in triple digit heat.

Ibn is still around. He is 34 years old. That’s pretty old for a horse.

Today I looked into one of his big brown eyes and saw the familiar shades and patterns engraved in his iris. His iris always reminded me of rough craggy rocks sketched around his cavernous rectangular pupil. In his eye is a miniature scenic shot of the Grand Canyon. I remember thinking he had the Grand Canyon in his eye. Not literally, of course, that would be impossible.

Regaining that twenty-year-old observation made the fact that I was covered in sweat and mud worth it. It also made me miss horses.


(I can't sleep again. I am so wired and I don't know why.)

Originally posted July 31, 2010 here:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Do you believe in ghosts?

I was shocked when I looked at the clock and realized it was 2:00am. I couldn't sleep. The steady noise produced by the box fan seemed to solidify the air -suffocating me. Every few seconds the chain from the ceiling fan struck the metal casing that shields the bulb, acting as a cymbal in the symphony of my insomnia. I wasn't tired.

Usually, when I can't fall asleep I tell myself (imagine) a story just to cast a shadow over the thoughts that keep me wired. I always fall asleep before a plot unfolds. Sometimes I read a book and sometimes I watch television, but hubby was asleep and I was scared to move.

I feel like my mind has stagnated and it's because I have not allowed thoughts to flow, naturally. I fill up my waking hours with purposeful thoughts or some type of digital entertainment, even when I'm doing "work," which should free my mind to wander. As I fall asleep at night I try to corral the stream of thoughts that run through my mind. A wandering mind during consciousness is like entering dream-state during sleep - both are important to our mental health. I haven't allowed my mind to be free.

I wondered if controlling the thoughts of children five days a week was healthy for intellectual growth. I wondered if it was healthy for me, so I tried to think of nothing - just to see what would surface.

I pushed my thoughts out of my mind and sometimes caught myself slipping into sleep. This awareness quickly woke me up and I was back to the humming of my room.

Box fan and ceiling fan - there was a rhythm. I could stack it like blocks in my mind.

Maybe someone was mowing their yard? I was standing in the tall grass back at my childhood home admiring the gray water. I looked to my left and I noticed that a stranger was using a push mower to mow our fourteen acres along the bay. My "mee-mee" always mowed the grass on her riding lawnmower. I felt sorry for the stranger but there was a nice breeze.

Someone whispered in my ear that my childhood home was now for sale and I wanted to buy it. In real life the two-story country home on the water I grew up in would never be affordable - even if I had a job. I knew hubby would never move back to Port Lavaca, even if to live out in the country and on the water.

I turned to go up the hill towards the house but I was standing in a grass-less unfamiliar pasture looking back at an unfamiliar one-story small white house. I had never seen it before, but it felt like home.

Little Tykes toys littered the yard. I imagined myself reading a book on a blanket under the sun. I wanted to have a family from Canada come and stay for a few days. I thought about how I would approach the subject with my husband. "They are free-range hippies."

When I woke up I was sad. There is a part of me that I can never have. I miss the house I grew up in. I feel like a part of me is still there. I feel sorry for whoever lives in that house now. I haunt that house in my dreams.

I am the ghost.


This song reminded me of this dream:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Astra Taylor on the Unschooled Life

John Holt used the word "unschool" to describe those families who opted out of institutionalized learning. As the community grew and as the movement became mainstream it morphed into something that looked less like "unschooling" and more like "school at home." By the time I began to teach my own, "unschooling" was a sub-group of the homeschooling community. Over the years I have developed some negative associations with the word "unschool" and have always tried to distance myself from the word but it, in it's most original meaning, probably describes my philosophy of education. As Astra explains her mother's schooling she touches on the history of educational alternatives and talks about radical pedagogy. She asks what happened over the last forty years to stop the conversation. She shares how unschooling shaped her as an artist. This is my favorite topic!

She mentions A.S. Neill's Summerhill School, and at some point, when I feel like it, I am going to try to look up and share links to the books Astra mentions as well as any of the sites...