Mar 9, 2013
It is a lovely gray morning. Cool air coming through the screen door and the birds are chirping away. My loquat tree is heavily laden with green fruit that will soon ripen into tart little golden orbs, a metaphor for my life right now. The heavy burden on my branches is soon to be a bountiful harvest, but the rain must come to wash away the detritus and nourish the fruit.
Today I mainline British mysteries on Roku as I try to organize a life that feels like it is splitting at the seams. My monkey mind swings from the vine of one thought to the vine of the next and I am all over the place, but never actually arriving at my destination. Lists are made when I think of what I think I need to do, then I start another list and then another, but very few things are being crossed off, and my lists continue to grow. I am scattered about like my thoughts. Raking up my to do lists in vain while they swirl around me like windblown piles of leaves.
In spite of all of the clutter in my mind and in my house, I see an end to the disarray. A gift bequeathed, but not deserved, is on the horizon. The relief the gift brings is tempered by the guilt that a survivor feels when they would decline rather than pay the price of an incomplete life.
I wish it would rain.
Feb 22, 2013
Feb 6, 2013
Today I laughed at one of my clients until I cried. It was uncontrollable laughter, the kind of laughter that causes you to stop breathing and your face to turn colors.
It all started when he told me that his girlfriend's cat got out yesterday and hasn't come back and he is very upset about it. I asked how his girlfriend is taking it and he said, "She's alright. It's not exactly my fault that it happened... well it is, but it isn't." I asked him to explain and this is what he says:
Well, my dog got sick. He got diarrhea and I didn't realize it until I pulled the covers over my head while I was sleeping. (I am trying to stifle the laughter at this point, because I know this is going to be an awful/terrible/wonderfully funny story) You see, I pulled the covers over my head while I was sleeping and didn't know that my dog was sick and had defacated on the sheets. (By now I am laughing in his face, but he just kept telling me the story). I ended up with feces in my hair, my ears, my nose and my mouth. (My tears are starting and I am waving at him trying to get him to stop talking, but he just keeps going) That's when I started to vomit. I couldn't stop throwing up. It was a helluva mess. I had to shower twice just to get it all off me. (I think I had a small stroke after he said that). So after I was clean, I had to clean it all up. Did I tell you that my apartment is kind of a dump? Well it is, and the smell of feces and vomit was everywhere, so I opened the window to air the place out. Because my place is a dump, the screen was loose and the cat must have pushed it open and got out through the window.
When I finally got myself together, I apologized repeatedly. It really isn't professional to laugh at the patients. He accepted my apology and said, "It's OK, my girlfriend keeps laughing at me, too."
Feb 4, 2013
Feb 3, 2013
Feb 2, 2013
Last night I had a great time at the Just Ink 2 show. I didn't sell a thing, but the atmosphere was buzzing, and the art was inspiring. So much creativity in one room, and at the risk of sounding like a New Age dork, so much positive energy from all of the artists and the people who were there to see and buy art. I had a very late dinner with my East End Studio Gallery peeps and enjoyed laughter and good company and conversation.
This morning, I went outside to feed the birds a bag of outdated corn tortillas and the weather was so perfect that I took a barefoot stroll through my yard to see what survived the winter. My fig tree is still chugging along as is my pomelo tree and I expect to have them fruiting nicely in about 2-4 years. On the other side of the yard my orange tree has rallied and my lime tree is going strong, but I think my lemon tree has given up. I will have to replace it this spring. While checking my lemon tree, I noticed a fresh harvest of pecans had blown into my yard from my neighbors huge pecan tree, so I filled the bag that held the tortillas in and came back in with about 5 lbs. of wonderful, fresh and free pecans.
Today I will create.
Feb 1, 2013
I am writing to tell Applebee's of my disgust with your company's decision to dismiss the server for posting the receipt of the pastor who refused to tip and used religious tithing as the excuse. Shame on the pastor and shame on your company for allowing that dismissal. There are hundreds of thousands of servers and former servers who know what it means to work for less than minimum wage and rely on their tips to survive, and I am among them. The work is hard and at times hazardous, and although we expect to be stiffed from time to time because people are cheap or even dissatisfied with service, being insulted and having the cheapskate customer hide behind religion as the reason is despicable. Firing the server for posting the receipt on line without posting any identifying information about the customer is beneath contempt and cowardly of the manager. I expect a company to stand up for its hard working employees, and knowing that Applebee's does not feel the need to support their servers will keep me from eating at your restaurant in the future. Shame on Applebee's for not speaking out on behalf of the server and her first amendment rights. There are a lot of chain restaurants (TGI Friday's, Black Eyed Pea, Ruby Tuesday's, etc...) that serve similar food at similar prices that can benefit from my business.
I will be posting this letter on Facebook in the hope that there are others who will support the server your company betrayed.
Jan 27, 2013
I got up this morning before Connor and sad, but true, I will let him sleep until he wakes up on his own (about 2:00 PM, if I am lucky), just so I can have the house to myself. Marilyn is in Conroe, so it feels like it's just me as I sit here typing away and listening to the churning of the clothes in the dryer. I feel like I am returning slowly to center. David's death is a fact that sinks in more and more each day, so now the only thing that throws my equilibrium off are the calls from my nephew in Little Rock as he has minor melt downs about his brother's rants from prison. Both of them are very easily worked up as they push each other's buttons incessantly. They tend to go from baseline to critical at the smallest hint of a slight from one to the other and the only thing that matters to them in the midst of this is to be right while the other is wrong. I don't operate that way. My critical state is when I weep (sometimes wail) alone in my car. I have difficulty with the Jerry Springer-esque lobbing of threats and the futility of pissing contests to try to "win" an argument. I know part of my job over the next two years is to try to help these two brothers to either find a way to love each like brothers should, or to teach them to co-exist peacefully so that they can run the business. Neither of them has come to terms with the fact that because their father died without a will, they are equal partners in the success or the failure of the business he left to them. One of them is stepping up to be responsible and the other is stunted by his incarceration and seems to think he won the lottery, rather than inheriting a business with all of the responsibilities that it entails. The beautiful house they now own together can either be a place of peaceful cohabitation or it can be their own personal hell. I have to remind myself that if I don't succeed, it will not truly be a failure, since I have no control at all over how they behave. I can only lead by example if they are paying attention and if they want to be lead and if they don't and they squander the gift their father left them, then ultimately, that is their path. Not being disappointed in them or myself will be more than difficult, so I will try to focus on the positives as I reconnect with them both.
As I write about their drama, it is dawning on me that I am pretty stressed out about the situation. I have been having vivid strange dreams and they are all about me being responsible for some situation or some big project and not staying on top of the details. On the plus side, I am also dreaming about art and getting some ideas for pieces I would like to attempt. I think venting via blog will help me to process all of the things I am struggling with at the moment, at least I hope so.
Jan 14, 2013
Perhaps it is the combination of the New Year passing and David's death, but I am thinking more and more that I am on borrowed time. Grandma's life tells me that there is no way of knowing when your life will ebb away, but the Magic 8 Ball in my head keeps coming up "outlook not so good," when I think about the time I have left in this life to accomplish the things I want to do. It's not exactly depressing, but I am re-evaluating what is important to me right now, and that isn't always as easy as it sounds.
Jan 9, 2013
I wrote to a friend that it is strange to think that I am in this world without my older brother and sister. They were always constants in my life and now there is a void where there presence once was. Even knowing they were a state away, they were still tangible and I knew that if I had a bad day or just needed to hear their voices, I could call them. It was an eight hour drive, but I knew that there was a hug and a smile from them just eight hours a way.
We always assumed that losing Linda would be the hardest thing in the world, but somehow this loss seems more difficult. She had been so ill and become so debilitated by cancer that there was a small comfort in knowing that her years of fighting were over. David's illness began a little over a year ago and we thought he would be around for at least a few more years. I told him once that I thought he must have cockroach DNA, because he seemed indestructible. I think because we were so emotionally close to Linda our entire lives, but David had been so distant to us through his drug years, that his death is hitting us so very hard. I only became close to David after Linda's death, like a second string player whose chosen to play after the star player is out of the game. Slowly we built a relationship after he got sober and we became closer still in the last few years. His illness changed our relationship drastically after we went to care for him last Christmas. I don't think that he really knew we loved him until he got sick, and that saddens me greatly.
There was an ice storm in Little Rock just before we arrived. We witnessed the devastation it caused as we drove up I-30 and saw so many trees cracked and broken by the weight of the ice. David owned David's Tree Service in Little Rock, and he loved a good ice storm. He was not ghoulish about the devastation, but he knew that his phone would be ringing off the hook during a season that was normally not a busy time for his business. An ice storm was the chance to help people and to keep his crew working and earning money to support their families, and if the damage was extensive, they would be working for many weeks throughout the winter months.
While in Little Rock making the arrangements for David's funeral, I carried his phone and fielded calls from customers and from friends. Each call was wrenching and fascinating. Every single call was a window into his life that had not previously been open and those glimpses into how he impacted so many people over so many years breaks my heart and gives me great joy. I was shocked at how many of his customers broke down and cried while telling me what a great man he was and how much he had helped them over the years. They all spoke of his sense of humor and what an excellent service he provided. Most of them had something to say about the way he drove his crew to work to his exact specifications. I took a call Saturday evening, after the funeral was over and we were settling into our grief. The call was from Herman the German who called to tell David he was driving a truck through a place that David always wanted to visit, but never got the chance. Immediately I said, "You are in the Redwood Forest," and he replied that he was. He was very sad at the news that David died the morning of New Year's Eve. He said in his German accent, "I want to tell my story of how I met David." He recounted to me that he had just arrived in America in 1993 and was hitch hiking, and David was the first person to pick him up. He said, "He gave me a ride and he gave me a job." He talked of working for David and learning the tree business, and how eventually he was able to start his own tree company. "I had that company for 5 years and it was very successful, but I didn't like it." He sold his business and went traveling to "Ireland, Canada, and Maui." He wound up back in Little Rock last year and called David and told him, "I am back and I am going to drive trucks, but my job does not start for three months, can I work for you?" and David hired him back and they spend a lot of time together during those three months. Herman said he would continue to talk to David, because he thinks that they can hear you, even after they are dead. I don't know that they can't, so I hope he does and that it comforts him as it will comfort me to know that he remains in the thoughts of so many people.
David was a warm and funny man much of the time, but I never envied anyone who worked for him, especially his sons. His perfectionism on the job and his inability to communicate a directive without bellowing drove his boys away from the business he built for them. They both grew up steeped in the tree business, but neither son could work for my brother, and I understand too well why. His death has left the business to them and to my happy surprise they want to honor their father by keeping the company alive. David had a partner in his business, Orin, who has been in the tree business at least as long as David was. They were friends in their youth and worked together off and on over the years. Both David and Orin had similar work ethics, but their leadership styles differed dramatically and I think that under his tutelage my nephews may flourish, and in time even grow the business. I know that David would be proud of them for trying. I am proud of them for not taking the easy route and trying to succeed in the business their father taught them.
Jan 1, 2013
We found out this morning that our brother, David, died. In spite of his recent health problems, this was a surprise. He was not always the soundest of mind, but he was the soundest of body in our sibling group. It is more than strange to think that there are now only two of us left, stranger still to wonder at how much time we do or do not have left, given our brother and sister passing before reaching the age of 60.
As New Year's Eves go, this one is not one of my better, but it is certainly the one I will be likely to remember for the rest of my life. We travel by car tomorrow to Little Rock and will drive the gray distance with a heaviness in our hearts that holds all of the trips back for sickness and death that we have made over the years. It occurred to me tonight that we always looked forward to our trips to Little Rock throughout our childhood and even into our early 30's, but then things started to change. Our sister, Linda, got cancer and married a horrid man while in a diminished mental state. Linda died, then our grandmother died, but not before countless trips to visit her in a nursing home. After Grandma died, we actually began to enjoy visiting David, which was no small feat as he was a difficult man, to say the least. Our relationship with him, which was strained and even distant through most of our lives seemed to develop into something deeper and with more respect than it had before. Visiting him last Christmas when he was sick and needed help to care for himself was a tipping point. He had promised to visit us, but he became very ill and While the trip was more than difficult for us, he finally realized that he had two sisters who truly loved him, even when he felt he was unlovable. He wanted very much to visit this year, but his health failed him again and he spend much time in and out of the VA hospital in Little Rock over the last few months. We really thought he would heal up again and we would go see him in March. His sudden death this morning put an end to that plan.
I am glad we had the last year and that he finally knew he was loved and that he had family that would be there for him in any circumstance. I wish he had more than just one year of that knowledge. I wish also that he had found happiness in his life.
Happy New Year, David. We love you and are proud of the man you were able to become, and we are going to miss you more than you ever imagined was possible.
Dec 30, 2012
Everything in my world is perfect, even the things I am trying to change.
Sep 23, 2012
I would like to finish out this year with more of my home and work projects done or at least up to date, and start next year with more vigor than I feel like I have at the moment. I am taking October off from doing any art shows. I will attend, but don't want to feel stressed about being in the show. I want to reorganize my back room and turn it into a functional studio for me to paint in. I also want to clean out my closets and get rid of half of what is hanging in them. I want to break free of stuff and try to slow down. I think my goal over the next few weeks will be to slow down and hopefully slow down my speed of life and enjoy the events, people, and things that make me happy.
Sep 16, 2012
Oct 22, 2011
These are two of the people who are responsible for me being here, John and Rosie Ringleben. Rosie's full name is reported to be Katrina (or Kathrina) Rosina Magdalena Von Hohenstein. They immigrated from Germany in the 1840's and they are my great-great-great-grandparents on my maternal grandmother's side of the family.
My brother views genealogy as a pastime for people who are stuck in the past. I think that the more you know about your past, the better you will understand your present. It is just a tool to gain insight. The past fascinates me, but I don't choose to live there.
We believed that we could change ourselves
The past could be undone
But we carry on our backs the burden
Time always reveals
The lonely light of morning
The wound that would not heal
I like the analogy of our bodies as clothes we shed from one life to the next. I think we know more about our past "wardrobe" when we are children, but as we age/mature, we lose or suppress the memory. Sometimes it's difficult to articulate the feeling of it all for fear of sounding like a nut. I have been working on the family genealogy for many years (off and on), so I have been feeling very "connected" to the past while living in the present and raising the future (so to speak). I feel there is a life thread that connects all souls. I guess my analogy would be that souls are energy (like electricity), and they run like current through a universal grid. Instead of being strictly linear, the grid is dimensional with time and form dimensions. The forms would be dead, alive, human, not human, ghost. I don't know any of this to be true, but it is how I sense that the universe works. It is the personal lens I choose to see through.