Monthly Archives: March 2014

People in glass pyramids – 31/40

When I was growing up my mother had a most marvelous collection of people come through our house. One visit included a devout believer of pyramid power, though I don’t think that is how he came to stay with us. What I do recall is that our pet goldfish died and this jolly gentleman explained to us at breakfast that he would build us a pyramid and that it would mummify our goldfish and that we would have a beautifully preserved fish for all. Over the course of the rest of the day I sat in the back yard watching him carefully measure and remeasure the pieces of cardboard that he was using to build this pyramid. He regaled me with tales about how it was the pyramids that helped preserve the famous mummies in Egypt (and not their embalming process I would now assume) and finally he finished this process and we all gathered outside where we had a ceremony of sorts where we placed the fish directly underneath the pyramid.  He told us that it would have to be under the pyramid for at least two weeks to reach its optimal mummified state.

Two weeks later, we checked and I can tell you all that it was not an effective pyramid… which has me deeply concerned for Dodi Fayed’s dad intent on burying himself in a glass pyramid… but it would be very interesting to see what happens.

“I’m building a glass pyramid over the Egyptian escalator where my body will be mummified, so my customers can come and see me forever.”
~ Mohamed Al-Fayed

More information on the ideas behind pyramid power

Pizza units – 30/40

Existe una distancia incalculable
que no se mide en horas ni en pulgadas
ni en millas ni en semestres ni en tamaños
lejos y cerca son casi lo mismo
y es la frágil distancia del amor
en ese territorio que es del alma
la nostalgia está lejos y nos mide
el tacto es un placer de cercanías
en extraños azares sin embargo
la nostalgia del tacto se inaugura
y entonces la distancia es sólo un punto el punto del amor ese infalible.
~ Distancia- Mario Benedetti

A very, very loose translation:

There is an incalculable distance that is unable to be measured in hours and not in inches or miles or semesters or sizes that are far and near and yet about the same distance and the fragile of love in that territory which is the soul ‘s longing We measured distance, touch is a pleasure to nearby strangers chances and yet nostalgic a touch that opens and then the distance is only a point of point love that is infallible.
~ Distance-Mario Benedetti

When my son was about 4 he created a unit of measure he called “Pizza Units”.  So set was he in this measurement that he informed me that I was 17 pizza units tall. The other marvels of pizza units is that it was not just a way to measure length or distance. It also measure the ephemeral and eternal aspects of our lives, it could measure things like love. My love was “infinity pizza units, plus 1”.

My son has a distinction of being a first generation American as well as a sixth generation Arizonan. And in spite of his American birth, it was clear to me that in spite  of his practical and American birthplace, it is as if through  something far more magical that he was able to capture the gentle spirit of the enchanted lands that raised his mother and there is something in that for which I am tremendously grateful.

Embracing my natural awkwardness – 29/30

Recently I proclaimed my introversion to someone (Subject A) who promptly informed me that was a seriously erroneous self assessment. Actually they said “I don’t think so“.

I was really taken back by someone who has never lived in my skin feeling like they could make such an pronouncement. Whatever, it was a stupid thing to tell me in such a thoughtless manner.

The thing is, that on several occasions I have mentioned that I am shy and the people around me that have heard me utter these words told me that they would never consider me to by that way (notice that they just told me the same thing as “Subject A”, but in a nicer and more genteel way?).

The things is, I am most probably both.

I had the genius revelation while at a Costco the other day. Actually I had this revelation after I caught myself talking to a stranger. I call this stranger Costco-Man (Subject B*).

Costco-Man looked a little like this

It is not everyday that one will see a handsome man wearing a suit and a fedora. I was so taken by how lovely it was to see someone make the effort that when I happened to walk by him I said;

“Sir, you look very handsome and it is so lovely to see someone as fabulously dapper as you”.

I was on the phone talking to my mother at the time, how rude of me. But, thank you Costco-Man!

Anyway, the next day I realized that I had spoken to a complete strange which is not something I think a shy/introvert would do. So, I thought about those supremely definitive personality assessments that some people follow as if they were an astrological forecast and took at a peek at them and “sho’nuff” I scored a 50% on those things that measure introvert/extrovert (defaulted to extrovert, as an interesting aside).

So, I went to the google-sphinx and asked for the meaning of life. It was not 42, but that was not my question… “who can be an introvert and an extrovert?

Apparently there is something that they are starting to call an ambivert.

Which appeals to me because I am ambidextrous, and navigating the middle of any spectrum appeals to me ever so much.

“I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness.”
~ Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Andie was awkward and it is only in my dotage that I realize what a poor choice Duckie would have been, but then so was Blane, aka a major appliance. Yes, I realize this photo has NOTHING to do with this post… I am merely giving in to my natural awkwardness.Also, note that there are no Y’s in the nicknames.

 * only because I was once told that if you have a first of something like this you need to have a second.

Gentle hands made these 26/40

One of the things I am rarely without is a necklace. I never take off the gold chain with the tumi charm. Though I often wear what is apparently called a statement necklace I have added another necklace that has somehow manged to capture my intention in wearing it at all times.

The tumi charm was a gift from some family and friends in Ecuador, when they gave it to me they said that I had shown that I was a native daughter to the land and that as an Incan surgical tool it represented my studies in medicine. It is a treasured gift and I don’t take it off unless absolutely necessary.

The new piece that I seem to wear almost constantly is a piece I bought in a monastery gift shop. It was hidden away on a bottom shelf in a basket under which was hidden a small 3×5 card with some terrible pictures of beautiful round-faced African women on one side and some pencil drawings and crude information on the other, It implied that the necklaces contained in the basket were hand made ceramic beads at a woman’s cooperative in Africa that used local clays. It gave no mention of where in Africa, but the necklaces were amazing with these tiny round beads with occasional longer beads. As the daughter of a woman that traversed the terrains of Latin America in search of exquisite hand crafts I was intrigued and the necklace was only $5.00. So, I picked through them and found one that seemed a little different from the rest.

The purchase was made (thank you, mom) the necklace slipped into a paper bag and forgotten until the trip was over. Once I opened the bad with the necklace a month or so later I was still struck by how magnificent the small handmade beads were. I twisted open the barrel closure and put the necklace on.  I had no idea what magnificence I was yet to see.

When I woke up the next morning with the necklace still on, I was brushing my teeth when I was stunned by the transformation that necklace had gone through in the 24 hours since I had put it on. The obviously clay beads had picked up a beautiful sheen from the natural oils in my skin and had become this incredibly rich mix of colors, with a patina that was mind-blowing. I set my toothbrush down and touched the beads as I look at them int eh reflection in the mirror. The beads were beautiful and I was struck by the memory of the highly pixelated pictures in my recollections of the 3×5 informational card that was with them in that monastery gift shop.

Several weeks later I had need to take it off for a formal event. And I set it on the tray on the dresser in my bathroom. When I went noticed it the next morning I was struck again by how much it had changed, It had returned to a far less beautiful version of themselves. It was obvious they were meant to be worn, to go through a transformation that spoke to so many layers of humanity. They have become a reminder that we are all beautiful, but something comes out that makes us magical when we are  doing what we need to do with others. They have become about community and have somehow manged to tie me to a landmass that I have not properly visited, and hope to someday.

My Boys – 24

My best friends, when I was 17, were a group of boys.

I called them “My Boys”.
We would go to parties and they’d tell everyone I was their step mother. 
No one ever asked how come I had six very different looking step sons or wondered about my fake British accent. I became known as the cool step mom, the extremely young wife who had step sons only a few years younger.
Each one granted me wishes I didn’t know I had. 
They were all Boy Scouts, and for one glorious day they made me one too… Then stole my bra while I was strapped down and impersonating a scout and put it up the flagpole the next morning.
One taught me how to dance.
Two taught me how to charm a man.
Three taught me how to rappel a wall.
Four taught me brutal honesty.
Five taught me how to make chain-mail, throw knives, fight with two swords, and how to pick locks.

All of them protect me fiercely and loyally, but in their very own way. I am a very lucky girl.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ⋯ = −1/12 [day 23]

– 1/12

A magnificent number.

The reason is that there is this;

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + ⋯ = −1/12


If I had life to do over again, I often think that I would be a physicist. I would want to work on the theoretical aspects of string theory. I find it so provocative that that I am almost tempted to take it up late in life.

There is such a gentleness to it, that it is exciting and  attractive to me.

I am not the only one that thinks that.


Chiquitita dime la verdad

Spanish lyrics to ABBA’s song, Chiquitita.
Reminds me of the year my parents split, watching Grease two times in a row in a theatre. Seeing my mother become one of the strongest women I know. Experiencing the innocence of childhood drift away, putting away my dolls. Reading books while I was hidden in my closet. Finding my fathers old Playboy magazines and reading all the cartoons.

It still doesn’t sound like the right song unless the lyrics are in Spanish.

Ancestors – 20/40

I miss my Squink.

While I am not ripping my hair out and crying all the time. I miss his smell, even his stinky feet. In a home with children (or with a love of nieces and nephews and such) there is something that can happen… these reminders of children seem to be everywhere, and I mean everywhere. A bath toy on the tub, pictures on the fridge, their special plates and cups. The other morning I opened my fridge and saw the family line he had drawn as a part of a cub scout project.

To know me is to know that I deeply value my family and can recite my ancestors (on my mothers side) back to 6 or 7 generations.

My mother has this thing she said when I was a teen (and making poor choices (like staying up too late and taking un-necessary risks)  that essentially boiled down to this;

Back to the beginning of time my ancestors made choices to bring up a defenseless infant. Those choices all helped raise that child, through famine, through war, through strife, in times of hunger… and I have the power to destroy that all with just one poor choice.


Anyway, when what she was saying hit me, it was pretty life changing. Not that I was bad, but being buddies with the schools biggest LSD dealer (never did that though, cross my heart mom) was probably not in my best interest and not in the interest of the six children I wanted to have to have a mom like that.

So, it piqued my interest. Most of my maternal side came to Arizona before statehood. They settled this land and if you have every really been in this desert, it really isn’t all that friendly to folks that don’t get how it works.

So, I learned about the Pennsylvania socialite who married a physician and traveled with a chaperon by stage-coach to visit a young physician that worked with the tribes. 

I learned about that physician who learned the languages of all the tribes he worked with and translated for them and even advocated to US congress on their behalf for water rights after the building of Roosevelt dam.

Dr. Ellis at his farm in Phoenix

I learned how his daughter, Dorajean, became one of the first school teachers in the town I live in now. 

His grandson, my grandfather, would go to work on our Arizona mines, as well as build our bridges and and dam (including being held in the US to work on building Boulder Dam, instead of being sent to WWII – turns out he was colorblind anyway).

His great granddaughter, my mom, would travel the world and raise two children while just being awesome (she learned how to trick ride with the Ecuadorean Army and is an learned welder).

All of that is just so rich to me. 

So it was a delight to see that my son had picked up most of my stories about his Arizona heritage and was able to complete most of this family tree… using their nicknames for the most part. He just couldn’t remember where the coctor was  (it is C.H. below).

Painted With Feeling – 18/40

My entire life I felt like the ugly duckling… it probably began in Ecuador as I started hitting growth spurts much faster than my peers and as suck entered an awkward faze much earlier than my fellow classmates… that and my brown hair, freckles and pale skin were not like the warm coffee tones of my Latin classmates and the towheaded that made up of my Germanic classmates. I was somewhere in the middle, and the middle is not a fun place when you are growing up in a culture where women are more objects.

So it was as a huge [insert F expletive here] surprise when I was 17 and I was asked to pose for a series of photographs.

My aunt, Anne Coe, was dating and had been living with a fellow artist, Bill Schenck. I had just finished a stint of living with them as a means to escape the big city high school and be a part of a smaller community. I loved that experience on so many levels. On one side, I got to get closer to my aunt who I don’t recall being completely horrified by my raging hormones and lack of any semblance to being a normal human (what teen is though?). She showed a maternal streak for me that can still evoke a choked up feeling when I recall some of her gestures. Her boyfriend was a wild man and taught me many things. Billy had a love for old movies and I was tasked with cataloging his shockingly large collection of VHS tapes (probably to keep me out of his hair). I also had a rather intense conversation with him about life, music and other stuff one night on a long drive from Phoenix to their place in Apache Junction, it was a conversation that profoundly altered my world view.  As I was wrapping up my stint with them, having managed to survive the experience, still somewhat in their good graces, he asked me to go on a photo shoot and pose for some photographs. I was skeptical, and asked my aunt what it was about. She said that he thought I had a great Native American touch to my profile, and a wonderfully Indian nose. So, I thanked my Cherokee and Delaware ancestors and told him that I would and we went up on a nearby hilltop, and he wrapped me and some other folks in blankets and had us pose with some amazing pottery. And it took all afternoon, and it was hot and boring. But, hey, it was an experience.

Up until maybe 15 years ago the whole thing had come up only twice. The first time was maybe a month after the photo shoot and my aunt found out he hadn’t paid me for the time. She was pretty livid about it and got him to give me a check for $35. Hey, I was 17 and $35 was good weekend money.

The second was when I was told that Leaning Tree had used one of the paintings for a greeting card.

Then we fast forward to just around the time I met my husband and we were planning to get married (considering that I met him in February and married him in June of the same year it was not a big gap in time) I went on a road trip with my mom and aunt from Missouri to Arizona. We stopped and stayed with Billy for a few days at his fabulous ranch in Santa Fe, It was here that I learned that those photographs had actually been turned in to paintings and even a series of photographs.

So, shortly after we returned Billy had an opening and I finally got to see them up close and personal like. It was for his photographs but totally out of my price range. Then Billy had another opening, a retrospective, and I walked in and there I was huge as life against a wall! I had never seen the paintings in person before. I was blown away. I think I was for sale for a magnificently hefty sum.

I was stunned. After growing up and visiting museums all over the world, I was immortalized in paint. Which meant that I had to be more than the ugly duckling I perceived my self to be.

The painting of me that is my favorite

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.” 
~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

What I saw today, it starts on page 73, I am on the lower right of 76

A video about Billy

A little more about Billy, with a few of the paintings I appear in

Ghost stories 17/40

We live in a house that predates statehood. Arizona’s statehood, that is. For all the trouble that owning an old home brings, I cannot even begin to describe its joys. I often reflect that I will lay my head on my pillow at night and look up at my ceiling and thank that powers that be that brought me to this home.

My house, in the middle of the street.

We moved here when our son was still an infant, he learned to crawl here, drew on our walls here, laughed, played, sang… all of those precious early memories of him are here. While he is not always a fan on living in an old home, I do what I can. I counter his not being allowed to run in the house with impromptu hallway soccer games (that dad is not privy to).  I challenge his distress that there is no grass to play on with the nearby park that we have. In the end, I am pretty sure it works out for him.

I listen to the walls after having guests over and can hear the imprint of happy times thundering in the horsehair plaster.

I can hear the the times I have loved, laughed, and cried with my husband since we moved in. The house has formed us.

When we moved in, many people asked if we had any ghosts. My reply was that I have not experienced any. Though for the first few years I would hear a little girl cry outdoors, but figured it very well could be the neighbor. and various nooks and crannies that this house has that were letting the sound in.

A friend, who claims to be susceptible to those things verified that the house itself is ghost free (which makes sense since it has only had five families live in it in all its history). He also mentioned that there was a little girl that was outside, but she was not tied to the house and was not a threat. 

We are in the middle of some home repairs and fix-ups. And because of an increased outdoor presence one of our neighbors decided to stop by and introduce herself. It became immediately obvious that what she was more interested in was getting access to our property so she could run her metal detectors over it! 

So, she came over with all of her accouterments and had at it. One of the more interesting finds, to me anyway, was this child’s ring. It barely fits on the tip of my pinky, it is downright tiny. 

An itty bitty teeny tiny little girls ring
I have to admit, though, that when I saw this tiny ring nestled among the other findings. I wondered if it was the same little girl that I used to hear cry?