Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
- Neil Gaiman

"For a new year to bring you something new, make a move, like a butterfly tearing its cocoon! Make a move!"
- Mehmet Murat ildan

"I shall stick to my resolution of writing always what I think no matter whom it offends."
- Julia Ward Howe

Monday, December 30, 2013

Moving Blues & Nostalgia

One of the worst things about leaving a place you really like is that you start noticing the things you really like! I spotted a blue heron this morning at the edge of the lake, a really big fellow. These photos aren't mine, (too busy packing) but they could be.

Right outside my living room, on the side of the house, is a Hong Kong Orchid tree. I had never heard of this tree before moving here, and I was instantly in love.

Of course, I have to remember the bad omens I'm getting with palms falling and grapefruit trees dying on me, and I'm sure that I will find new things to love at the new house. But there's that sickening emptiness in the pit of my stomach.

Maybe I should make a sandwich.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Football. You heard me. Football. Wanna Learn?

Okay, full disclosure, my last boyfriend can only be described as a jock. If there was a ball involved, he was there. He knew how to teach football. He was a Patriots fan, and I have NO reason for being a Patriots fan....until I got familiar with Tom Brady, the incredible Quarterback of the Patriots. Thank you very much.

Besides being eye candy, Brady's also a dedicated family man (it's said) and a wonderful football player. But he doesn't come off like a strutting, cocky star. He's all business and quite modest and does incredible things on the football field.

I asked to be taught something about football. I have always known NOTHING, and cared less about all that tumbling around in the grass and ass patting of men with padded asses, handlng that impossibly shaped ball.

Okay, I didn't learn a lot, but just enough to get me hooked on the damned sport. And if you're one of those women who never cared but thought perhaps you should (for that football addicted man of yours), I'll give you a little crash course.

1. The object of the game is for the team you like to take the ball (carry, kick, pass, throw) to the other end of the field, into "their" end zone (their end of the field. See? It's got their name on it.)

2. How they get there is by having four "downs" -- meaning they have four chances to get the ball to their end zone. If they go 10 yards on a down, they get four more chances. So "first in ten" (remember cheerleading days?) means first down in ten yards. Then you start with another first down. If you don't make 10 yards, (say, only five yards), then the next down is "Second in five." Always trying to cover that 10 yard span. If they haven't made a touchdown, then by the 4th Down, they have to give the ball back to the other team, and THEY try to get four downs to their end zone. Easy, right?

This is a bit simplistic, as there are many more sophisticated nuances to the game and a whole lot of jargon to learn, to say nothing of learning the players' various positions, strategies, and then there's the gamespeak of the tv announcers.

For instance, the quarterback of each team is the Pop Star. He's the one who sort of runs the show and all the other positions rotate around his calls and plays. He's the one who throws the ball to the receivers. He's the one who they protect, the golden arm. If the other team happens to mutilate him in an attack, it's called "sacking" the quarterback. We don't like our quarterbacks sacked. Definitely not the same as getting them IN the sack!

A team of "defensive" players are on the field when the opposing team has the ball. These are different guys than our dapper Brady and his agile team of receivers. The defense are these MASSIVE BRUTES who weigh 300 lbs. and look like the Jewish Golem. Their job is to maim the other team, apparently, within the rules. Otherwise the referees throw flags and penalize golems with prizes of yardage for the opposing team.

Is it violent? Ohhhhh, Yeah, I'd say so.

Is it absorbing? Definitely, once you get into it. It's got an addictive danger to it.

What are the redeeming features? Exciting surprises, outstanding human physical accomplishments, interesting psychological insight into a national phemomena, and then, the next day, you can say to almost anyone: "Hey, how about those Patriots?" (high five)

If you really want to learn all the rules, players, etc. the internet is LOADED with information. This is just a teaser from a lady who likes to learn new stuff. Of course, once I move, I won't have television, but at least I'll have an idea of the standings from the internet.

News Bulletin! The Patriots just beat the Bills to put them in the playoffs for the SuperBowl competition. Go, Pats! ##

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Superstitions? Or Moving Madness?

Perhaps I'm more superstitious than I thought. Black cats, walking under ladders, broken mirrors don't bother me, but like the ancients, I am prone to believe in omens and signs. And I'll admit to more than one, in my lifetime, psychic reading, tarot card reading and astrology reading...just in the spirit of good fun,

But this has been a very tough year for me, and leaving this little house on the lake--my retirement paradise--has been one of the toughest things I've ever had to do. The doom and gloom of it cast a very black cloud over the holidays, and I seldom do well during the holidays when everything's fine~! But oh! My little house with the grapefruit tree, the wading birds lining the shore of the lake just a few feet from my lanai. Every day I have found somehing visually new to love about it.

My new house has hardly any landscaping. The prior owner pulled up everything apparently because she had bugs. (Ever hear of bug spray?) So I am busy collecting the free little pots of plants that "Jungle John", a neighbor of mine, puts out on his driveway for passersby to pick up. They are tiny and will take years to grow large enough to be landscaping, but it's a start. I'm researching to see if my yucca canes (indoor plants) could possibly thrive outdoors if I plant them.

My old house has lush foliage around it. Blooming hibiscus, bougainvillea, enormous shrubs and bushes. In the front a delicate slender palm stood among fat multi-colored shrubs. I love the look.

So where does the superstition come in?

Okay, I got into my financial difficulties starting a year ago, and have been hanging on by my fingernails (and denial) ever since. The first thing to happen is that my gorgeous grapefruit tree started to die. I spent a lot of time and money trying to nurse it back to health, and it is producing fruit again, but they are not as sumptuous, large or sweet as when I bought this house. Then a series of horrors inside the house began to happen. I had a massive leak in the water heater and had to have all the plumbing replaced. A huge expense which isn't paid in full to this day. I was told that the leak caused the underflooring to rot, and that had to be replaced. It meant tearing up the kitchen and bath to replace plywood and then redoing the floors. I was frantic. My beautiful house was falling apart in front of my eyes. Then a leak in the roof left a discoloration on my ceiling. I had no money for roofers. The sun shines a lot. I've just let it dry up. But I know in my heart that there's roof trouble ahead.

These are bad omens, and unwelcoming signs. I didn't put it together right away.

This morning, when I took the dogs out for their walk, I couldn't believe my eyes. There, right in my front yard, the lovely graceful palm that was the center focus of the landscaping, had FALLEN OVER, crashed to the ground:

We had had no rain, no high winds. Nothing. One day it is standing upright, and the next morning it is gone. I looked at the base, but can discern nothing about it that indicates bugs? But I'm no botantist.

I can only say that this house is bidding me farewell. Get out!

All right, already, I'm going!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Woody Allen Retrospective

Anyone who knows me well (and cares about movies) knows that I detest Woody Allen. Not because he screwed his adopted daughter behind Mia Farrow's back (though I thought he was even creepier than usual with that one) but because his public and celluloid "stance" has always put me off. He's what I would call a professional Jew. Not just a professional who happens to be Jewish, but a man who makes his living off New York Jewish Schtick. If you lived in N.Y.C., as I did for two and a half decades, you would know there is a "real" nerdy hypochondriac Jewish man-boy on every corner complaining about not getting laid. Woody is a monumental cliche who bores and irritates me as a personality.

But knowing that my own schtick is likely not how I'd like to be remembered, I decided to be fair and try not to be a hater when a retrospective of Allen movies came on cable this Xmas season. (Since I'll not have cable tv after the 1st of the year, I figured I'd dive in and watch as much as I can in these final weeks (between packing boxes and schlepping them to the new house.)to see if I can find redemption for Woody who certainly doesn't need MY approval, but maybe I'd be a better person for it.)

So far I've watched a few: Manhattan, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Interiors, and I have a few more to go. I had seen (years before) Hannah & Her Sisters, and Annie Hall already. Here's the truth of it. Some of these films are beautifully made, beautifully created and are worthy movie fare. I guess Allen's popularity as a director and writer make that obvious. But I just can't get past Allen. What bothers me about any of them is when Allen casts HIMSELF in the role of lover, husband, hero and carries on like he's George Clooney. If he would just direct, as he did in Interiors, it all comes out much more excellent and unspoiled. Even as the secondary story in Crimes & Misdemeanors (Allen and Alan Alda's dispute), a movie I almost loved, it would have been better with another actor playing the brother in law. Allen's just too broad. He can't resist overacting, overstepping the boundaries of what's believable to his audience. He's vulgar.

In Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex Allen found his own element. Slapstick, vaudeville, broad bathroom and sexual humor-- it was perfect. I had to turn it off halfway through. I couldn't find anything funny. Compared to what Mel Brooks does with the same impulses, this comes out a total failure.

Interiors is another matter altogether. Here we have INCREDIBLE actors (Geraldine Page, Maureen Stapleton, EG Marshall, a serious Diane Keaton) doing a tour de force about love, life's meaning, death and divorce-- and no Woody in sight. A wonderful film, and to be my favorite unless I find another of his films with him absent. There is no doubt of his intelligence, talent, ability to create art. He's just got a public presence that would best be kept behind the camera and out of the tabloids.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It'll all be over soon....meanwhile....

And I'll be so glad to see it gone, gone, gone. But love this song! I DO feel like I'm cracking up!

"Basket Case"

Do you have the time
To listen to me whine
About nothing and everything
All at once
I am one of those
Melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone
No doubt about it

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Am I just stoned?

I went to a shrink
To analyze my dreams
She says it's lack of sex
That's bringing me down
I went to a whore
Who said my life's a bore
So quit my whining cause
It's bringing her down

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Uh, yuh, yuh, ya

Grasping to control
So I better hold on

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Am I just stoned?


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the Night before Christmas
The house was near bare
From moving full boxes
From this place to there:
The stockings, the silver, the linens and clothes,
The bath oils and skillets, the video shows.
The little Fit Honda was crammed to the top
With lamp shades and golf clubs, a broom and a mop.
The big moving men won’t arrive ‘til the 2nd
But meanwhile the stuff is still moving, I’d reckon.

On Sugar! On Henry! On poor little Spice!
Without a true home, it’s so hard to be nice.
They help with the packing, stay out of the way,
But eagerly wait for the last moving day.

I thank all the Santas who sent love and more!
Bits of money to keep the big wolf from the door.
The spirit of Christmas resides in my peeps
If not in the heart of this tired old ______(bleeps).
Someday on your roof, you’ll find me in a sleigh
Delivering presents on your special day,
To thank you for friendship, for love and in spite
Of my folly and failure, I intend to do right.

I’ll lay my head down on a pillow tonight
And wait for the New Year to brighten my plight
And dreams will still gather as they always do
Of mountains to conquer and projects to brew.
So though it be Christmas, and eighty degrees
I simply refuse to be brought to my knees.
So putting "that" finger inside of my nose
I'll mutter Bah Humbug, and curse all my foes,
But to those folks I love who stood by my fight,
Merry Christmas, dear ones, and to all, a good night.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Photo by Robert King

Above These Cares

Above these cares my spirit in calm abiding
Floats like a swimmer at sunrise, facing the pale sky;
Peaceful, heaved by the light infrequent lurch of the heavy wave
      serenely sliding
Under his weightless body, aware of the wide morning, aware of
       the gull on the red buoy bedaubed with guano, aware of his
       sharp cry;
Idly athirst for the sea, as who should say:
In a moment I will roll upon my mouth and drink it dry.

Painfully, under the pressure that obtains
At the sea's bottom, crushing my lungs and my brains
(For the body makes shift to breathe and after a fashion flourish
Ten fathoms deep in care,
Ten fathoms down in an element denser than air
Wherein the soul must perish)
I trap and harvest, stilling my stomach's needs;
I crawl forever, hoping never to see
Above my head the limbs of my spirit no longer free
Kicking in frenzy, a swimmer enmeshed in weeds.



If I grow bitterly,
Like a gnarled and stunted tree,
Bearing harshly of my youth
Puckered fruit that scars the mouth;
If I make of my drawn boughs
An inhospitable house,
Out of which I never pry
Towards the water and the sky,
Under which I stand and hide
And hear the day go by outside;
It is that a wind too strong
Bent my back when I was young,
It is that I fear the rain
Lest it blister me again.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bloom's Taxonomy

I was pondering my own stupidity this morning. Just generally I'm not nearly as smart as I think I am. (but smarter than some by the very impulse to consider it).

My tendency has always been to blame the wolves who raised me. Stupid begets stupid. But does it? I know plenty who have pulled themselves up from nothing into really brilliant somethings. So the blame game is hardly appropriate.

Then I began thinking about an incident when I had my software consultant company. My business partner was out of town and I needed to tend the software emergency of one of her clients. I had never met this client before and when I attempted to understand her problem, she was jumping ideas too quickly. I said, "Whoa, A to Z. How did it start?" And she smiled and said, "Oh, I forgot that you are not Valerie (my biz partner). She and I are abstract thinkers, and you, I see, are a linear thinker."

I was so undereducated as to have to go home and look up abstract vs linear thinking. I got her problem fixed but her impatience with me was palpable. As was my newly discovered shame about my brain.

How does this happen? How did I get to be the dull, wet sand beneath the ocean while Valerie dazzled clients, glittering on the beach? Did the fact that Val had a degree in nuclear physics have anything to do with it?

I ran across Bloom's Taxonomy while researching this a bit this morning. 1956. I graduated high school in 1956. I think I was just late to the party.

Definition: The Bloom taxonomy is a classification system developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom that describes various stages or levels in the process of learning new information. Bloom conducted a study of instruction and assessment practices. The study found that nearly all traditional instruction methods taught students at a simple recall and recognition level. Rote learning was the dominant teaching model. Bloom and his researchers wanted to increase the rigor of instruction and challenge learners to reach higher thought processes in learning. Bloom's taxonomy included six levels of understanding:

Knowledge - The basic awareness level of knowing;
Comprehension - The emergence of understanding;
Application - The ability to use knowledge and understanding to perform tasks;
Analysis - The ability to think about information in a critical way with comparison, contrast, and categorization; and
Evaluation - The ability to objectively assess information and determine its strengths, limitations, and potential improvements.

Also Known As: levels of knowledge, cognitive skills

Maybe in my next life....but I find it all very interesting, nevertheless.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red, White and True --- Anthology up for Pre-Order

I'm so proud to have my Loose Fish story about my father, titled "The Wing Shed" represented in this wonderful anthology coming out next summer by the University of Nebraska Press/Potamac. To see and/or order from Amazon:

Pre=Order Now!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

JIngle Balls (KMart, you made me laugh)

Poem by Emily Kendal Frey

A Tyrant Seeks Conclusion in the Known Self

In California we went to the dive bar and I lost my wallet
I remember falling into it
And maybe kissing against someone's garage
I fell on city sidewalks
In California and other places
The trees looked at me tenderly
I'm guessing
You do not love me because your mom did not love you
I understand the equation
Meanwhile, I make a butter fire in the kitchen
Two times I heat the butter for the eggs
Both times I burn it
Just observe, I tell
My students, describe what is
The woman next to me on the airplane
Moves pictures from her wallet to her pocket
In case we die
I cry with my eyes closed and the Sprite goes by
The unconscious drives us to master
The childhood situation
I wonder if there are spiders
Here, in the carpet or between the seats
A place with bugs is so
Much more friendly
The book I am reading tells me
Ours is an earthbound crisis
That until we cease to dominate
With doing, we will fail
At being
My fingernails
Are the color of rotten peaches
On Orcas Island there's a stone tower on top of Mt. Constitution
Some days you can see for miles, the many
Mountain ranges and pine-crusted bodies
In my mind
I practice dying
I throw myself over the edge
The plane is making its way into the streaking
Sun of this country
In Mexico I slept in a clay structure facing the ocean
I could hear the wind constantly
I bought you a tin heart with a hole in it
I brought it back in my backpack
In bed you said Don't make fun of me
When I'm old, okay?
When I think of your face
I have to think of me
You are holding my knee
And now I look into you
Now I look up and face
The abject fear
I am an animal
The bedroom is trees
Go limp a voice tells me
When a person passes me on their way to the restroom
I pretend they are the kindly face
Of god
Look deep into the eyes
Of the divine
It's so beautiful isn't it
To believe you are looking
At the future

Copyright © 2013 by Emily Kendal Frey. Used with permission of the author.

About This Poem "We all want to know the future: who we'll be, where, with who, and when. We think our minds will keep us safe, but they won't. I don't want my plane to fall from the sky with a black heart. When I'm up there I try to feel all the love I'm afraid of on the ground."

--Emily Kendal Frey

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bill Maher is NOT Canadian, and he ROCKS!

I get Soooooo tired of the right wing haters making up shit! "Bill Maher is a Canadian and has no right putting down America~!" This from someone I actually know, who clearly hasn't watched enough of Bill Maher to even GET his satire.

From Wiki: William "Bill" Maher, Jr. born January 20, 1956) is an American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, satirist, author, and actor. Before his current role as the host of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher hosted a similar late-night talk show called Politically Incorrect, originally on Comedy Central and later on ABC.

Maher is known for his sarcastic attitude,[1] political satire and sociopolitical commentary, which targets a wide swath of topics including religion, politics, bureaucracies of many kinds, political correctness, the mass media, greed among people and persons in positions of high political and social power, and the lack of intellectual curiosity in the electorate.

Maher supports the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage. His critical views of religion were the basis for the 2008 documentary film Religulous. He serves on the board of PETA and is an advisory board member of Project Reason. In 2005, Maher ranked at number 38 on Comedy Central's 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time. Bill Maher received a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on September 14, 2010."

Last night I watched his 2010 show "But I'm Not Wrong" which had me literally hooting out loud. He is SO outrageous, so brave. I am reminded of the stand up comics who remain in my heart forever: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and Don Rickles. People who DARE to say what they REALLY think are on the hate lists of the Righteous.

He's an Atheist and has problems with Religion and the Religious.

Sorry, but I find this not only funny but holding the seeds of so much common sense, and intelligence that it's undeniable. Since it shakes up the faith of all the faithful, he should be stoned? Nah. If your faith isn't strong enough to handle the opposition, then I say it's shaky to begin with. If your politics can't stand being challenged, then I say you have no sense of humor or balance. Instead, you might just relax and laugh. He's a stand up comic.

And he's one of the best.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Little Drummer Boy Softens My Bah Humbug

I don't do Xmas. I don't do holidays, for the most part. I love that everyone else does them, and every once in awhile I get snagged by this or that and can appreciate the seasonal festivities. These young people and their lovely harmony gave me some of that joy. So much talent in this world, and I can celebrate that, for sure.

I'm in the throes of moving this month, so I won't have time to dread holidays.

I see the Tallahassee Mafia has found me again. Some people can't be shamed into going away. Nothing like a stalker to remind you of misguided history. Geez, people must have really lame lives to bother with mine at all. My soap opera wouldn't be my choice, given my druthers.

Otherwise, the weather's just beautiful. Our Gorgeous December days in the 80's and nights in the 60's.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

House Guests!

Pat and the Boys

Ed and his devoted Spice (velcro dog wouldn't leave his side>

Lunch on the beach at The Turtle Club

Ed getting no rest from the dogs

Or Pat either, for that matter! (Fortunately they are "animal lovers")

It was SO wonderful to have dear friends visit at this time of the year.

(I don't do holidays well) So this was a gift!!!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Angels in America - Perestroika

Just saw this TV version of the famous play -- the AMAZING play, Angels in America.

This scene with Mary Louise Parker knocked me out. I mean I watched it five times.

Lely Horse Memorial, Naples Fl.

Wonderful friends came to visit from Asheville and we did a field trip out to the Lely properties which are huge complexes of incredibly coiffed and beautiful estates, condos,homes and golf courses. The horse monument, commissioned by the community, is something to see:

Click HERE for photo journal

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Lucky Pauper Lucks Out Again

Just when I think my life is about to end (or worse, not end and be lived out in utter misery and despair), something miraculous happens.

I just bought a house and am moving out of an impossible financial situation. It is a wee little old house, but it has been treated with loving care for many decades, and is pristine in its clean sweetness. It is a mobile home in a small park, but I shall be living within the parameters of what I require to be happy:

1. Autonomy. Nobody living over my head, telling me I can't paint a wall, fining me for hanging a picture. Solitude, peace, autonomy. Heaven. Be it ever so humble.

2. My THREE animals (2 dogs and a very old cat) have a home, without restrictions on the Quantity, Size or Breed. It's my house, and I can raise alligators in the bathtub if they don't bother anyone. (well, maybe not, but you get the idea.)

3. My utilities will be reduced drastically because of a new budget: much less space to be airconditioned, no dishwasher, no television. Instead I shall Roku stream whatever I need (news/movies/TV shows) from my computer at a much reduced cost.

4. I won't have yard maintenance because the yard is tiny and there's virtually nothing to maintain. The park mows the little plot of grass.

5. I am seeking a part time job to supplement this lifestyle, in an effort to try to "refinance" my trading fund someday. (It's been depleted in order to move out of my current situation which has become wayyyy too expensive.) A gut wrenching loss, my ability to earn money trading. (It takes money to make money, so I shall find a way to replenish the fund and continue to trade. The market might oblige me and become volatile again sometime in the future.) The gloves are off, the challenge is on. I have something to prove to some folks. And to myself.

6. I am peddling the memoir and keeping a good thought. It was rejected by a top N.Y. agent, but now another top N.Y. agent has requested a full manuscript. You never know. Miracles happen.

My recent proof of this is that I offered one-third of the asking price of this house, certain I'd be laughed out of the office, and when the Seller was called, it was immediately accepted. Lucky Pauper!!!

The Official Move date is Jan. 2nd 2014, (Happy New Year) but I should have the keys and start moving next week. Very, very relieved. E-X-H-A-L-E at last.

Nobody knows the levels of fear that one can sustain until it's tested.

Happy Holidays, all you secure and family-affiliated Normals. I trek forward, face to the wind.