Playtime for a Full Heart

Life has been intense lately. Amidst the dark and cold and holiday hullabaloo (and provoking world and national news), many people I love are going through very tough experiences right now.  So I decided to give my sore heart a break with a little playtime. The result is the writing below and the drawing, both of which gave me a much-needed chuckle. I hope you get a chuckle out of them, too.   Counting Change   One is the loneliest number One-act play One day I won one! Hard one Hard-won Won over One after another One a day One by one Won by one One left?   Two heads are better than one It takes two to tango Two by two Two left feet To where? To dream To ache Can I have two? Tea for two Too much? Two choices Me too!   Three’s a crowd Third wheel Bad luck comes in threes Third time’s the charm Three coins in the fountain Three wishes What’s the third thing? Three-legged stool Seeing in 3D   “Four eyes” On four legs Four-poster bed It’s a four-door What for? For a song For a lark For a laugh For spite For a change For heavens’ sake! For or against?   FORE! Four way stop.   Did you find the four numbers hidden in the drawing?...

A Tall Order

It’s amazing what you can get on Amazon. Recently, when I was in Lanesboro Minnesota visiting my friend, I learned that the nearby town of Peterson, population 200, had taken up a collection and ordered an 8 ½-foot gnome to honor their Norwegian heritage (and for fun and to drum up business I imagine). (Who knew you could get an 8 ½-foot gnome on Amazon?) Well, the gnome got lost somehow en route, so Amazon apologized and sent them another one. (How do you lose an 8 ½-foot gnome?)    Eventually, the lost one showed up, leaving Peterson with two 8 ½-foot gnomes. (Apparently Amazon thought it was too much trouble to ship one of them back.) Of course my friend and I had to drive to Peterson to see them. One gnome sits in Peterson’s city park and the other next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town. Turns out 8 ½ feet isn’t as large as you think (though still impressive). See photo. If gnomes are not your thing, we later discovered that the company that made these gnomes also sells (among many other items): A Welsh dragon that is 6 ½ feet high and 9 feet long; An African elephant that is 8 feet tall and 12 feet long; A giraffe that is nearly 12 feet tall and 6 ½ feet long; A charging triceratops that is 10 ½ feet high and 20 ½ feet long; and A Brachiosaurus that is 15 ½ feet high and 18 feet long. These huge items are probably intended for cities or companies, but I laugh, imagining one (or more!) of...

Incredibly Out of Touch

Had an embarrassing “old and clueless” moment at the movies awhile back. We loved Incredibles back in 2004 when we saw it with our teenaged kids, so we were eager to see Incredibles 2. The plan was supper and the movie. The first red flag was when I looked up the show times. I was startled to see that we had five choices: in addition to standard and 3D, the film was in IMAX 2D, Dolby, and Prime. We didn’t know what most of them were, but since the only one we knew we wanted to avoid was 3D, we went off to dinner, figuring there would be plenty of showings to choose from when we were ready to watch. Later, when we got to the theater the next show was in Dolby. Enhanced sound? Probably too loud, but ok. Dolby was as expensive as 3D. And all the rest. Except standard. Sigh. Oh well, we’re here now. Select your reserved seat. That was new at this theater. To us anyway. Passing an expanded snack bar and an actual liquor bar—when did that happen?—we found our seats, large cushy recliners, and settled in. (Ok, before I go on I have to say: we do go to movies, even theaters that have reclining seats and a full bar. But mostly to theaters with very basic amenities. Probably hadn’t been to this one in about a year.) After a few minutes of an expected loud and frenetic pre-movie show, the previews began. As this was an animated kids movie, all the previews were for kids movies, all of them animated. All but one of them were...

Gift from a Horse

Nearly three weeks ago I went to a daylong personal growth workshop with horses. Because horses are powerful, gentle and extremely sensitive they are used for confidence building with special needs adults and children, in leadership training and team building and in personal coaching. In personal growth work horses are not ridden; participants touch, lead and observe them. I had read that they are excellent mirrors  because they attune to what our bodies, emotions, thoughts and energy tell them and they detect and respond to any conflicting messages that we send. I’d been looking forward to the workshop for weeks—though I was also a bit nervous because I had no experience with horses and had always been rather afraid of them. The day of the workshop I woke feeling tired, spacey, weepy and fragile. And I was limping a little with a sore hip. Yet I had paid my fees and a friend was picking me up, so I went. We worked in an indoor ring with four male horses and their handlers doing a series of exercises, beginning with greeting each horse and deciding which one to partner with. In between exercises we met in circle to discuss our experiences and observations. During the course of the day we spent time breathing with “our” horse, listening for messages from the horse, and leading “our” horse on a path which represented a life challenge. I chose to work with one of the white horses, Shooter, because he seemed the most gentle. And I felt affection for him right away. Shooter taught me something during every activity (and everyone there experienced different...

Christmas Sparrow

This month I offer a poem written by Billy Collins. In honor of surprises and wonder, and how they invigorate us instantly. And in honor of the resiliency of the many creatures that quietly live among us. If you have had experiences similar to the one in the poem, I’d love to hear.   Christmas Sparrow The first thing I heard this morning was a rapid flapping sound, soft, insistent— wings against glass as it turned out downstairs when I saw the small bird rioting in the frame of a high window, trying to hurl itself through the enigma of glass into the spacious light. Then a noise in the throat of the cat who was hunkered on the rug told me how the bird had gotten inside, carried in the cold night through the flap of a basement door, and later released from the soft grip of teeth. On a chair, I trapped its pulsations in a shirt and got it to the door, so weightless it seemed to have vanished into the nest of cloth. But outside, when I uncupped my hands, it burst into its element, dipping over the dormant garden in a spasm of wingbeats then disappeared over a row of tall hemlocks. For the rest of the day, I could feel its wild thrumming against my palms as I wondered about the hours it must have spent pent in the shadows of that room, hidden in the spiky branches of our decorated tree, breathing there among the metallic angels, ceramic apples, stars of yarn, its eyes open, like mine as I lie in bed...

Beyond the Sights

I just got back from 2 ½ weeks traveling around Alaska with Tom. We tasted Alaskan foods (seafood, salmon, reindeer, fireweed and honey ice cream); walked on the land; cruised on the water; rode a tram up a mountain; heard native stories, drumming and dancing; spent a day at the Alaska State Fair; and had numerous conversations with a variety of people. We saw mountains, glaciers, icebergs, rivers, ocean, waterfalls, forest, tundra, eagles, puffins, sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, sea otters, beluga whales, humpbacks, bears, salmon, cranes, and a variety of sea birds. In our visual-centric culture of television, videos, facebook, and Instagram, What did you see? is usually our first (and often last) question. Although what I saw was gorgeous, it was when I was startled awake by other sensations that I was most awed: listening to the delicate plick of raindrops dropping on wet leaves in the Alaskan rain forest; hearing sea lions grunting and roaring to each other as they lay on rock shelves in the sea; taking in the scent of greenery, river and crisp mountain air mingled with the stink of dead fish (in pristine salmon streams in Alaska you must have both, since the salmon die after spawning); being startled by the sharp crack crack as a sea otter breaks open a crab for its meal; catching the distinctive prehistoric call of cranes as they fly high overhead on their seasonal migration; listening for the explosive exhale of humpback whales, and to the living silence they create as they fish, dive and flash their huge tails without a sound; sensing the air grow...