Friday, February 24, 2006


This is a chikara.

I have a chikara tattoo that I got when I was 25. My motives were blended – this symbol is often used by my favorite rock band, on album covers and various merchandising. I wanted to pay tribute to them with a tattoo, but did not want something as blatant as, say, their moniker. Considering the inspirational root meanings of their adopted chikara, I found it perfect for my wants.

As the years have progressed, this tattoo has developed deeper, more significant meaning to me, above and beyond my love of rock and roll.

Chikara is a kanji symbol used to mean strength, energy, wisdom, power and skill. Since staining my skin with this gracefully simple character, I have walked many paths of which I’d never envisioned in my most troubled dreams. I have had to find and draw from strength of which I didn’t even believe was there. I have had to summon energy when I had none. I have harvested wisdom and grace from the wild brambles I’ve needed to traverse. I have gained life skills, and the power to work through often unmitigated torrents – via the ability to draw from within my own strength, and moreso the strength of Almighty God.

Tattoos are daunting decisions. What we love today may be inappropriate and regretted in a few years. The choice in my chikara tattoo is not so. As I and mine have fought through the weathering waters of time and triumph, the chikara on my skin has become a virtual talisman. Not so much a lucky charm, but an outward badge of what’s inside of me. What I have become – what I can become - and what I shall become.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


A friend of mine has a gift. She senses things she cannot possibly know by means other than intuition. She becomes aware of conditions and worries simply being in proximity to others who are burdened. She also dreams things. Things that come true. Things that could be considered warnings or premonitions. She’s had the gift since she was a little girl, but in recent years the gift has become stronger. She dreams of people in her life or the lives of those she knows having illnesses, often undiagnosed, or of troubles on their minds they had not disclosed to anyone.

A girl we grew up with had an older sister who had cancer several years ago. She went through treatment and in time was pronounced clear of the cancer. She has since maintained a normal life. However, our friend has been appearing to my friend in her dreams and was wearing her sister’s wig that she wore while undergoing chemotherapy. Our friend didn’t speak, but continually pointed to the wig with urgency.

This dream is different, though. Our friend who was trying to get a message to her was murdered a few years ago.

My friend dreamt this same event over and over. She told me she had not been thinking of this girl nor anyone or anything to do with her. She’s wondering if our friend was trying to deliver the message that her sister’s cancer has returned and needs to be tipped about it.

My friend is a Christian and believes this to be a gift from God meant to help others. I agree with her. I’ve known this woman nearly all my life, and I know firsthand that her gift has always been uncannily accurate. In fact I’ve never known her premonitions to be wrong. But she has never had a vision involving someone who is dead.

She doesn’t know what to do with it.

I didn’t know what to tell her.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Tuesday Show & Tell

To continue with my sprinkling of serenity amongst the madness, I offer Tuesday Show & Tell travel memories in the form of a scrapbook share - as initiated by Naive-no-more. The Hub and I have taken some wonderful trips and therefore the majority of my scrapbooks are travel books. This layout features shots from Arches National Park, Moab, Utah. The landscape of Arches National Park has served as a backdrop for many movies of dramatic setting, particularly westerns. If you ever find yourself in the neighborhood I strongly recommend that you go - you will never forget it. Feiry red rock and deep azure skies will saturate your very fibers, and will become a part of you. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Who else LOVES horror flicks?

"Oh yes ... There WILL be blood."

This weekend, after Incrediboy was in bed, we watched “Saw II”.

“Saw” is one of our favorite movies so we’d been cautiously looking forward to the sequel, hoping that it wouldn’t be ruined.

I have always been intrigued with the goings-on in the psyche and thought processes of serial killers and assorted madmen. Many are underrated geniuses – albeit their mental energy is used in most detrimentally unfortunate fashions, their processes are so fascinating. For those who have not seen these movies, the first “Saw” is a setup of two men placed in chains in an undisclosed lavatory. They are provided with a handful of puzzle piece clues and items which could possibly aid in their escape, including a hacksaw. The saw is not strong enough to cut through the chains, but IS strong enough to cut through bone … If one does not escape and kill the other, they will both subsequently die at the hands of the mastermind behind the setup, who is watching the entire time. Somewhere, watching.

Quite disturbing, let alone revolting.

In the second one, a group of people have been placed in a locked and sealed building. They are all linked by an undisclosed connection, and are all supposedly provided with the proper clues to find their way out. But the house is boobytrapped at every turn, and is meanwhile being slowly flooded with a fatal nerve gas, and the clock is running. These trapped rats must endure the gruesome puzzles, trials and tests as they simultaneously hunt for antidotes.

Both movies are brilliantly written, with twists and clues that are only seen in hindsight.

Horrifying stuff, really.

I’m not a sicko, I swear. I am just drawn to the strange thought patterns of psychopaths, and psychological horror is my favorite kind. The thing is, I don’t know what bothers me more – the movie itself, or the fact that someone actually came up with these things. Perhaps this is the writer’s behavior filter. To channel bad thoughts into a story rather than an act. I can’t imagine a normal, well-adjusted person even coming up with this stuff, though - even for the sake of storytelling - it's just - scary, to even dream it up. Makes you wonder about everyone you even run across.

These kinds of movies have me thinking about them for days afterwards.

It’s a great movie that can do that to you.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Baby Books

I have set up an obligatory tradition for myself. Last Mother’s Day I made a little 8x8 scrapbook for both my mom and my mother-in-law, recapping the highlights from Incrediboy’s first year. They loved them so much that I decided to make one each year until further notice, each spanning from one birthday to the next. I have begun selecting and printing the photos I will use for this year’s project these last few days. It’s a time consuming task, just getting the photos organized, but I had expected that.

What I wasn’t expecting was just how bittersweet it would be.

Babies change at a neck breaking pace in their first year. It really is astonishing to see that take place month by month. But at their first birthday, they’re still babies, really. But one to two is a different story.

All the while you are aware that they are changing. People tell you, and you notice yourself. But sometimes you don’t realize how much until you go back and say, look at a group of photos in a condensed progression. As I’ve sorted through 2nd year photos these past few nights, I was virtually shocked to realize my baby is almost gone – having been replaced with a little boy.

When did that happen? How did a chubby cheeked, fuzz headed, barely talking, fat roll laden, unsteadily footed BABY go to a lean, mop topped, jabbering, lightning bolt BOY, just like (snapping fingers) that? I have it all here in front of me in a few hundred pictures … But I still can’t pinpoint when it happened. It just … happened. Somewhere.

My verbal notifications have gone from “Ah-ba-ba-bah” to things like, “Momma, the moon is stuck in the tree!” HUH?

I feel like the people in that commercial that strap their baby boy in the car seat, and then when they get in and look back there’s an adult sitting in the car seat and the voiceover says, “Life comes at you fast.”

Strange how watching your child grow up can be so thrilling and so heart wrenching at the same time. I’m not a mushy person, but I have to think of the saying, “Mothers hold their babies in their arms for only a brief time, but hold them in their hearts forever” – and I just choke up a little.

Well, I should rather say, I never was a mushy person - I guess I am now.

Maybe that’s why scrapbooks have page protectors – to shield the photos from Momma's tears.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Book Review

Few works of fiction have truly altered my perspective or permanently haunted my thoughts. One is Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. I have never done a book review here but this story has been on my mind lately and I wanted to share.

Joe Bonham is an American Soldier who is severely wounded in WWI. He wakes up without knowing what has happened to him or where he is. Through self observation and the few remaining senses he has left, he comes to realize his horrific state: existing within the gap between the living and the dead. Both of his arms and legs have been amputated and his face has been blown off. He cannot see, hear, taste or talk, and he lies in a hospital in an unknown country. The reader goes through his struggles of coming to grips with this reality as his mind wanders back and forth between his past and his immediate condition, as well as his desperate and futile attempts to communicate with his caregivers. Through vibrations, touch, and temperature changes, he keeps himself busy by learning patterns – and in time figures out the time of day and staff shift changes, anything to clue him in on gaining a foothold in the outside world, meanwhile placing himself in the path of sedation due to his incessant head motions – attempts at communication by using Morse Code, mistaken for spasms. The quiet times are spent flashing back to his youth – girls, friends, adventures – the simple sensations he took for granted and will now never experience again. We suffer with him through the time it takes to assess what his life is now, and learning to move forward while teetering on the edge of lunacy from the isolation.

The text itself is written with very little punctuation, creating assaulting, run-on, manic thought patterns – a very effective mood-setting style. Trumbo forces the reader to bypass pause in thought, causing the reader themselves to experience Joe’s panic-ridden struggle, and his passages of heartbreak, hope and triumph.

This book will bring you to your proverbial knees. I first read it over 10 years ago, and it continues to haunt me. I’m sure it will the rest of my life. It’s been called “the most powerful anti-war story ever written”, but I find that a little superficial and more than a little oversimplified. More accurately, it is a brutal look at the human condition at its most rudimentary, and the horror of true aloneness - so close to others yet permantly isolated - on an uncomfortably up close and personal level. Having half a human body is far from synonymous with being half a human being. How much is too much suffering? Does the Hippocratic oath have a limitation on the stance of cruelty? Is there a point where it’s just better, more compassionate, to let a victim pass on via nature of his massive injuries?

May God grant peace to the Joe Bonhams.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Valentine

My husband hand-delivered a big bouquet of rainbow roses to me today. White, peach, coral, yellow, fuchsia, and cream with pink tips. They’re lovely, and I’m so proud to display them at my desk. The ladies I work with swoon over what a romantic he is, and the guys jestingly razz him, telling him to stop making them look bad.

February is a very busy month in our lives, and Valentine’s Day is a day we’ve always mutually agreed to downplay. But my dear husband always does something to make me feel special. It’s the kind of guy he is.

I’m not the wife I could be or even should be for him. In the busy-ness of our lives I sometimes forget to be romantic. I feel bad about this habit, and am trying to change. He doesn’t know how much he means to me, and that’s my fault.

So on this day, dear Hub, I just want to say I love you. I always have, I always will. Thank you for being my protector and my hero. Thank you for making me feel special, even when I’m not. There will never be another you. There will never be another us. There will never be another, period.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Both Sides of the Painting

PRELUDE: I need to reiterate that much of what I write is keyboard diarrhea. The painting exists; the rest is simple literary expression. No need to call the rubber room guys ... yet... ;)
When I was in art school, I had an assignment to design a cover for the magazine “Psychology Today”. My designated feature subject was anxiety and depression.
I did a painting of two faceless, genderless figures in a box of swirling brushstrokes. One of the figures was peach colored, the other deep blue. At first impression the peach figure displayed a sense of exhuberance. It reached out toward the upper left corner, beyond the confinements of the box. It seemed only a blink from joyously bursting through the frame of reference. The blue figure was diving down towards the lower right corner. As it plunged, it wrapped its arms around the legs of the peach figure. Its body language suggested stealth and dynamic swiftness.
As you looked the two over, you came to realize (as was my intention, anyway) that the peach figure possibly wasn’t in a leap of exhuberance, but a struggle to remain in its upward direction – straining to break free of the downward spiraling grip of the blue figure. Straining to keep its head above the murky waters of despair.
I got an A on my assignment. I was proud of that; A’s weren’t doled out freely at my college. Maybe it was foresight incarnate.
These days, I seem to find myself on the inside of the painting. I have much to be happy about, much to be thankful for. My life is blessed. Yet anchors of sadness weigh me down. Some I am unable to pinpoint – ghostly succubi of my own offbeat aquarian brooding artist-type psyche that have dug their talons into me and pull me down periodically for sick sport. Others I seemingly have brought on myself. Offenses for which I have repented and have not been forgiven. Accidental sins that are not permitted pardon. Kicks in my gut just as I begin to regain my composure. Blind eyes and deaf ears ignorant to my exhaustion.
Sometimes I feel that I cannot break the surface of the dark waters anymore, yet no life preserver is tossed within my reach. The cold cobalt counterpart of myself seems determined to drown me no matter what. Sometimes I get so deep that the bright light of day becomes only a pinpoint, far far above me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Road Trip to a Friend!

* * * * *
Friendship is like peeing your pants -
everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.
* * * * *

I’m way too jazzed for words right now.

I know this chicklet that lives 5 or 6 hours from me. We met on line about 4 ½ years ago, on a loss support message board. We hit it off right away and despite our geographical distance, we have been inseparable in heart and spirit ever since.

We’ve gotten together 3 times in the last 4+ years. The last time was the summer of 2004 … But not for long! Yes, in a few weeks I will be kissing my 3 men goodbye and road tripping to Naïve-No-More’s crib. We have an exciting weekend of slumber partying, scrapping, annoying Martie for sport, maybe a little cocktailing, undoubtedly some crab rangooning, and most definitely excessive goofing and laughing.

I know this isn’t as significant to most of my dear readers as it is to me, but I'm utterly geeked!

I was thinking of posting some nauseatingly affectionate poem to commemorate my wonderful friendship with her, but honestly – regardless of how much we adore each other – the following is really more “us”.

So, dear Naive, this is for you:

* * * * *

When you are sad --
I'll get drunk with you and help you plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
When you are scared --

I will ride it out with you, and then rag on you about it every chance I get.
When you are blue --

I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
When you are worried --

I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.
When you are confused --

I will speak more slowly and use little words.
When you are sick --

Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
When you fall --

I will point and laugh at your clumsy butt.

This is my oath..... I pledge it to the end.

Why, you may ask? Because you are my friend.

~::~ (Special thanks to my Hubbie-bubbie for this heartfelt verse.) ~::~

* * * * *

Sour cream doughnut and a coffee sandwich comin' at ya! GEEK!!!

Okay, now that that's out of my system, please revert to the previous post. I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Clew is currently away from her blog. Please leave a message. *Beep*

I am in a blogging slump as of late and I've been boring myself with my own lameness. So instead of posting crap, I'll just go longer between posts if need be. Meanwhile I may clean up a little - but not too much. A messy blog is a happy blog ;).

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves until I return.

Friday, February 03, 2006

It's just a number, right?

This post has been modified from it's original publication.

I once received this quote in an email: “Your thirties is when you finally get your head together, and your body starts falling apart.” Here are some cruel truths with which I have been yoked these past few years:

  • Eventually, your body does stop defying gravity, and everything not attached directly to bone begins to move south.
  • Time marches on, and you soon discover it's marched on your face. Never underestimate the power of a good moisturizer.
  • You will discover (all too late) that you simply cannot sit Indian Style on the floor anymore without nearly crippling yourself.
  • Making old-person grunts and groans while getting up from furniture becomes involuntary.
  • If you do not regularly work on toning your body, your outer casing will slosh around your frame like Weird Al Yankovic's fat suit.
  • Women can and do grow whiskers. Be on the watch. Find them before someone else does.

It's not all bad, though ...

  • I still get carded. Not as often as I used to, but it does happen. And it's really fun to see Chip the Waiter's reaction to discovering I was born in the 60's.
  • I no longer worry about hair, clothes, the latest eye shadow shades, or the hippest fashion. I have defined what makes me, me - and I'm good with that.
  • While it doesn't happen as quickly as it once did, it's still fairly simple to get back in shape if I get out of it.
  • While awkward and slightly uncomfortable, mammograms really aren't so bad.
  • I have earned the right to share war stories with other people approaching middle age. And who doesn't enjoy complaining sometimes?
  • My life is rich with friends, experiences, stories and lessons.

So, on my birthday this year, I decided that adding another candle doesn't make me older - it just makes my life brighter. Getting old isn't so bad.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day Trivia!

It’s Groundhog Day! Aren’t you excited?

In celebration of this special day (it's a "secret" as to why it's so special to me ;D), I thought I’d share a little bit of useless knowledge – my specialty.

When German settlers arrived in America in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold.

For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

According to old English Saying:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

And the German’s spin:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until May.
For as the snow blows on Candlemas Day,
So far will the sun shine before May.

The shadow-spotting tradition is also rooted in Germany, with the castor being a badger. The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day was in 1831, Morgantown, PA, but observations as we know them today began on February 2nd, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit by the newspaper's editor, Clymer Freas: "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow." The groundhog was given the name "Punxsutawney Phil''. His debut performance: no shadow - early Spring.

Now, go forth and dazzle your friends with your wealth of Groundhog Day trivia! Don’t you guys get too crazy now. I know it’s an exciting holiday and we all tend to overdo it.