Looking Solemn

For many people today is just another Friday with the added benefit that they have the day off work. For me I have the good fortune to have the day off but my day is not one of carefree leisure activities. I will be attending Mass at noon. It is a day of fasting and abstinence from meat. Today for many Christians is the prelude to Easter. If the events commemorated today hadn’t happened then Easter wouldn’t have any meaning. It is Good Friday. As a Catholic Christian I remember all the suffering on my behalf that Jesus endured. Everyone focuses on the physical abuse – the scourging, the carrying of the cross, the pain of the crown of thorns, and the actual Crucifixion. But there was the psychological pain. He knew clearly and in detail what was going to happen before it occurred. People forget the hematohidrosis that Jesus exhibited as he prayed in the garden, prayed that if possible the cup would pass from him. Hematohidrosis is an extremely rare condition in which you sweat blood. It’s so rare that many people don’t know it exists or if it’s real. But sweating blood has been seen throughout history and is a medically documented condition. It occurs when a person is under extreme physical or mental distress. So there you have it. Jesus sweated blood as he prayed in the garden. He was distressed. He knew they were coming for him. He understood the torture he would experience. For me it is often the anticipation that gets to me – waiting for the needle to draw blood, being called to the office, letting my mind rehash a conversation that went poorly… My anticipated events are nothing yet I have sleepless nights and acid reflux. Imagine for a moment that you knew with a certainty the exact circumstances of your death. Sweating blood doesn’t convey the enormity of the angst. The magnitude of the sacrifice overwhelms me. So that’s what I’m focused on today.

Looking at Dogs

I present episode 22 of Looking Back! Sometimes we choose pets and sometimes pets choose us. For Merit V. Bidwell, it happened like this:

I had a phone call yesterday. I dread that. Getting a phone call is never a good thing. It is almost always bad news. Anyway, that call dredged up lots of memories. I was still living in San Antonio when I sort of adopted a dog. I say that because there was never any official adoption. Every day I’d walk to and from work and every day I’d pass this house with a dog chained up to a tree. Most of the time I’d walk past the dog and we’d ignore each other. But sometimes I’d toss the last of my breakfast over the fence. I figured it was “good karma” since that dog was so thin. One day I walked by and the house was obviously empty but the dog was still chained to the tree. I figured they had moved but were coming back for the dog. The dog was there the next morning and I tossed most of my breakfast burrito to him. When I walked home he was still there. He didn’t have any water so I decided to fill his bowl. I wasn’t sure if he was friendly so I used a stick to get his bowl. He drank all the water immediately. Then he looked at me with sad eyes and wagged his tail. I didn’t want a dog. The next day I lugged a gallon milk carton of water and filled his bowl to the brim and left him a corn dog and a day old cake doughnut. As I approached the house on my way home, he started wagging his whole body as soon as he saw me. I managed to untangle the chain from the tree and he walked with me to my apartment. From that point on he was my dog. We had some good times. He wasn’t young but when the vet said he was probably 8 -10 years old, I was shocked. He didn’t live much longer after that. They said it was likely a combination of heartworm disease and liver failure. The vet wanted $75 to dispose of the body. I decided to wrap him up in his favorite blanket and bury him myself. I ended up having to buy a shovel and digging the hole in the middle of the night so no one would know I was burying a dog in the courtyard.

Looking for the Official Start of Spring

A freezing fog hangs
Suspends breath as a solid
Wool wrapped winter moon
Swings low in the soon spring sky
Indistinct and amorphous
Hinting at illumination
The way cold rain promises

Just because the calendar said that last Tuesday was the first day of Spring, doesn’t make it so. February gave us 60 degree days, a complete thaw, robins returning by St. Valentine’s Day, and the spring peepers chirping away before the end of the month. It was not spring then and it isn’t really spring now. I’m still wearing my winter coat and I’m not putting my gloves away anytime soon. We are starting Holy Week heading into Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday. Like so many Easters before, I’m counting on it raining. Growing up my Grandmother would buy us all new Easter dresses. She would make sure we had new hats and often new shoes and coats too. We would look so pretty. And then we would go to church and freeze. The Easter dresses were always designed for people in Florida and not Indiana – short sleeves and light weight chiffon fabric. The congregation would gather around the cross in the front of the church where the Pastor would say some prayers and then we would process into the church singing. On the rare occasion when the sun would shine and the temperatures would climb out of the 40s, it was beautiful and joyous. But in my memory there were only 2 or 3 times when the weather cooperated. Most of the time we would stand there with the rain making our new hats limp and soaking through the little coats. Our dresses with once crisp lace and sharp pleats became sodden and weepy. We would shiver and shake and finally squish our way back into church. Once there, we would sit and drip dry. And it was always officially Spring. So now you understand why I’m not convinced that Spring is really here. When I can switch to a lightweight jacket and put away the snow boots – that’s when Spring will really arrive!

Looking Orbicular

I haven’t posted any ceramic photos lately. It isn’t because I haven’t made anything. Mostly it is because I’m lazy and had neglected to photograph any of them. This is a coccolith of unknown origin. I used a white stoneware clay. The glaze is Phil’s Celadon in the centers and a Red Iron Oxide stain on the outside. I applied it thickly to get the metallic sheen.

I have 4 more that I haven’t photographed.  That is one of the “to do” items on my weekend chore list. We are coming up on the end of the month and there are so many things that need to be done in preparation for Easter. I’m not sure if we are having a big Easter dinner for the whole clan or if it will be just the nuclear family. Sparky was asking me if I knew where I wanted to go on vacation. The short answer was no. I would like to visit Alaska or Hawaii but that takes a little planning and I just don’t have the energy to do that until after GeoWoodstock in May.

Looking at Chitchat

Here is episode 21 of Looking Back! I think I have 15 episodes left…

I spend most of my time alone. No one visits me which I’m not complaining about. I’d be fairly cross if people just started showing up. Especially if they were people I know. The last time my brother visited he stayed for less than 30 minutes. We had been close, relatively speaking. Once he went to college I didn’t see him much. He probably has issues. I’m pretty sure he didn’t escape childhood without a few scars. That might explain his 3 failed marriages. All my experience with psychoanalysis has resulted in me being very self-aware. I’ve never made the mistake of thinking I loved someone enough to marry or procreate. DJ on the other hand seems intent on marrying every female that he manages to get in bed. And of course he ends up making as many “mini-me’s” as possible. His last visit was nearly 2 years ago. He looked at me and I could tell he was judging me – my hair, my clothes, the way I spoke. We stared at each other. He finally asked if I’d sign a paper to relinquish my share of our parent’s house so that they, meaning him and Beth, could put it on the market. I don’t think he thought it through. I told him I’d sign as long as I got a third of the profit. He tried to get me to agree without anything in writing. If there is anything I know about my siblings is that unless it is an iron clad legal document they will steal me blind. I must have changed the subject 10 times but he was relentless. He finally left me with a couple really awful school photos of his 2 oldest kids and a promise that he’d be back in a few months. Yeah, right. That is the problem with living a solitary life; you get out of practice making chitchat.

Looking to Feast

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph. This used to be a big deal in the Catholic Church. In fact, failure to observe this feast could get you excommunicated! You could get into deep trouble if you opened your business, conducted business of any kind (even going grocery shopping), or going to work… I suppose the dawn of the industrial age spelled the beginning of the end for this day of celebration in the U.S. So what does that have to do with anything you are asking. Well, our very energetic, charismatic, and traditionalist priest has decided that “the parish that parties” is going to put on an Italian Feast of St. Joseph tonight. Sparky has to work and I’m not gung-ho to attend alone.

Last week at work, I organized a Pi Day celebration. Staff participated by bringing in pies according to a category (meat, egg, cheese, fruit, or cream). They got to choose their category on a first come first serve basis. I made an Impossible Cheeseburger Pie. In my special Pi Day pie plate!

There were several other pies – a turkey pot pie, and 4 different quiches. Of course there were a preponderance of dessert pies. Most of them were store bought as we have a fair number of cooking adverse staff members. Our newest employee made an apple pie which was tasty. Since she was the only person to signup for a fruit pie, I made a “tropical” pie consisting of pineapple, peach and mango. It was a hit and 2 people asked for the recipe!

Sorry, the only photos were the ones I took first thing in the morning. This is the banana pudding pie one of the technicians made. She made the rookie error of putting banana slices on the top – the night before so they turned brown. It still tasted really good as it was homemade! I was in a meeting just prior to the Pi Day event and couldn’t get pictures of all the other pies…

In other news I took some stupid FB quizzes. According to one quiz my face/skin is that of a 27 year old. One that guesses your age and height based on your wardrobe choices announced that I’m 45 and 5’5″. Another one told me that based on their questions and my answers I am 36 years old and I work as a secretary. Another one said my IQ was 146 and I had my PhD. The last one I took was much more accurate – it said my spirit animal was a mouse…

Looking to Go Viral

This little beauty is my interpretation of the Influenza virus that is going around. It is a mixed clay body of mostly white stoneware clay with a little porcelain and brown stoneware thrown in. It is glazed in Phil’s Celadon with Reitz Green glaze accents. It was a happy surprise that the Reitz Green broke blue/turquoise with a touch of the original green. It made a nice lace pattern with in the glaze dots. I’ll probably never be able to replicate that effect. Then again viruses are all about replication!

There have been quite a few cases of influenza at work. We are after all a college campus densely packed with a large student body in a very small area. Yes there have been a good number of students that have confirmed cases of the flu. Even though everyone at work was urged to take advantage of the free flu vaccinations, some declined. So far I’ve escaped infection but 4 of 16 haven’t. That calculates to 25% of our work force has been out due to the flu. The average time out of work has been one week. I have escaped so far… Then again I’m too busy to be sick (and I’ve been taking my vitamins)!

Looking at Boots

Here is episode number 20 of Looking Back – a milestone! Can you believe I’ve already managed to get 20 of the episodes completed?

I love it when the sunlight slants through the window and it looks substantial. It reminds me that there is so much in my world that is conjecture and innuendo and amorphous attitude. Part of the problem is lack of stimulation. I don’t like to watch TV, mostly because the content is plain stupid. I’ve read most of the books in our pitiful library. I do a fair amount of writing. Working on my “Great American Novel” is both futile and frustrating. I graduated from college with the intention of getting some high paying job where I would have loads of free time to dedicate to writing. I ended up in my first job in San Antonio, Texas. I was the assistant to the editor for the San Antonio Express-News. I must have been there 2 weeks before I figured out the names of the people in the desks next to mine. Since I didn’t know anyone I spent the first month wandering around the city. I decided that with the buses and the warm weather, I didn’t need a car. That was probably one of my poorer decisions. The Riverwalk was really nice except for the tourists and conventioneers and the homeless people. I made it a point to stroll along the Riverwalk on my way to work. I had never really learned to budget money, mostly because I never really had much. My job paid well enough and I started to enjoy spending money. One of my tattoos from college was a small long bow with a quiver of arrows. I had positioned it on my hip where nobody would accidentally see it. I decided to embellish it. The artist was really good and was able to insert a wonderful fairy holding the bow and carrying the quiver. It only set me back $300. Everyone in Texas owns at least one pair of fancy boots. I wasn’t thinking I’d ever buy a pair, at least not until I saw the most beautiful boots in the world. They were made of elk hide with ostrich hide accents. The decoration was a hand tooled tessellation of dragons. On top of it all the leather was delicately dyed in blues, greens, and shades of grey. I wish I still had those boots or the $1000 they cost.

Looking Up

Glassy sidewalks reflect streetlight stars
Rain drops tickle mirrored surface
Lamp light twinkles a distant reality
Walking alone in a winter rain too cold for dancing

Ineffective wind can’t lift sodden leftover leaves
Instead plucks at my coat and plays with my hat
Buildings glow with internal illumination
Hinting at hidden lives and loves

I wrap my scarf tighter to hold in my own secrets
Snug against night and escape of my silent thoughts
As the cement turns to glitter and sparkles
My feet splash through ageless reflected universes

Try to tiptoe across streams of nebulae runoff
And Milky Way stars swirling down drains
And the tiptoe turns to a tap dance in the darkness
Because no one is watching except the sky

And so it goes. Even though there is enough negativity to choke a white shark, I’m hearing the dance beat. Some would say I’m an irrepressible optimist. Others label me naive or shallow. Or worse. I’ve been told I am cold and emotionless. But they only see the outside. I feel deeply. I think deeply. I do not show my emotions. Perhaps it is a self-defense mechanism similar to the stoicism of the animals. An injured animal carries on concealing the injury, hurt, and pain for fear of becoming a target. Even those animals at the top of the food chain exhibit the same behavior. Probably to retain their position in the group. Humans are not so far removed from this dynamic. With all the pain in this life which we cannot escape, I still savor the moments of beauty. Indeed I seek out whatever wonder and awe is available. It doesn’t cost a dime to look up and search for a twinkling star or marvel at the brightness of the moon. There is music in the air and a rhythm in nature that is just begging us to dance.

Looking Lame

This last weekend was half price day at Goodwill. That is my cue to mosey into the local stores and try to find some deals. I was only half successful. You see, it is a tradition in our family to give what has been termed “lame” t-shirts for Christmas. The criteria for a lame t-shirt is as follows:
1. It must allude to some concept/event or claim societal commentary.
2. It must be somewhat obscure or evoke the feeling of an “inside” joke.
3. The more cryptic the message the better.
4. There should be a connection between the shirt and the wearer.
5. Bonus points if the color is odd.
6. Additional bonus points if there is a link to a favorite Sci-Fi movie or TV show (past or present).
7. Double bonus points if it makes you laugh.

I was only partially successful. I found 6 lame t-shirts but only 3 were sizes that would work as gifts.

Shirt #1 – a little lame and yet it connects well with the musicians in the family.

Shirt #2 – Is definitely part of an inside joke. There is a connection to the wearer, it links to a favorite show in this household comprised of a variety of geeks and nerd. And it made me laugh.

Shirt #3 – I think it hits all the criteria and then some. The fabric bonus comes into play as the shirt is an odd “retro” textured polyester not seen in these parts since 1970.

There was a shirt that I considered getting for myself. I might have done it if it hadn’t been a men’s size 2X and if it hadn’t been a scarlet red. It had a picture of Beneficence (the iconic statue at Ball State University) on the front and the words “Don’t turn your back, don’t look away, and don’t blink”. Then on the back was a picture of Dr. Who’s weeping angel. It was so good since both boys went to Ball State and I grew up in Muncie. We are Dr. Who fans and it was funny… Maybe if I keep looking I’ll eventually find it in my size or maybe one that will fit son#1 or #2.