Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Brothers

The air is getting colder, the leaves are flying about which means reflections, memories and moments are what is left of summer. The leaves whisk by the corner where The Brothers played, and I smile.
Cory and Jon are brothers, they are musicians, and they brightened my summer with their music and their spirit. If you were lucky enough to be on the corner of Milwaukie and Bybee when they were playing then you know what I am talking about. Street musicians are most always a treat, but when you add creativeness to the formula it becomes magical. Jon (age 11) played the accordion, brother Cory (age 14) played the guitar.
The world can be a negative place at times. Music can soothe a troubled soul especially when it is heartfelt AND well played. We had just emerged from seeing Fahrenheit 911 at the local theater. Looking around at the viewers who had watched the movie the sense of "what's it all about" was heavy in the air as we all shuffled out.
Then we heard the boys.
Their open guitar case did well that evening as most of the moviegoers found themselves drawn to the boys and their music.
I was fortunate enough to have them bless my soul with a few other performances before summer came to an end. I might add I was impressed with the young entrepreneurs and their ability to work together. Many of their songs were original compositions, and both had specific ideas on how their summer fund raising would benefit their music. Jon was able to upgrade his accordion and Cory was working on building a custom electric guitar for himself.
I guess mowing lawns, or delivering papers aren't the only ways for creative youth to earn some summer cash.
Thank you Cory and Jon.
My spirit will smile whenever I hear Hava Nagela.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Haircut

Getting your hair cut is usually a most pleasant experience where the customer not only gets a new or improved look, but they also have a chance to get “free” chair therapy. Both the hair stylist as well as the customer realize that no one is going anywhere for a while, which means that usually the customer, when asked how they are doing, will get the chance to really let the hair stylist know what’s going on in their life. Profound conversations, intimate details and all sorts of things are shared during a haircut.

This CAN backfire!!

If during the course of the conversation things somehow get turned around and the topic switches its focus to the hairstylist’s personal experiences...then be wary. Cheating mates, dysfunctional childhoods,IRS problems to name a few, are NOT subjects you want the person who is holding the scissors with to be yakking about!

Not too long ago I was trying to be a caring customer when that very situation happened to me. Somehow the conversation got switched around to the hairstylist’s disgruntled relationship with her mom. Unfortunately as she was walking down memory lane her snip snip here, snip sip there became more intense with every recollected detail. The bald spot above my right ear was enough to get me to try and change the subject.

I am grateful for hats.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Parking Lots

Last week I spent my days working at the LPGA Tour, parking cars. (that's short for Ladies Professional Golf Association) It seems like a simple enough job to do, however in between all the drama that goes on with parking cars...I had ample time to ponder.

There were ALOT of "volunteers" running around doing the many things that were necessary to orchestrating an event of this magnitude. My part was to help park cars. It's funny how depending on what lot I got stationed at, it either seemed to be a "step up" or "down".
Let me give an example. I started out in THE GRASSY LOT finding spots for folks and just picking up the overflow from THE PAVED AREA. Things slowed down so I was asked to go across the street to THE DIRT LOT. There were already two volunteers managing that parking area which had absolutely no activity whatsoever, so you can guess how I felt...I had been demoted. Things were looking up when I was asked to cross back across the street to be in THE PAVED LOT moving cones for all of the VIP's.

Several days and parking lots later found me with a semi-permanent spot overlooking THE GRASSY LOT. Sort of reminded me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. That particular spot was "just right" for me. I had a RADIO, I made decisions, I got to interact with both the VIPS and all of the other people who helped to put on the tour...

It was good.

Until the fourth day, when we had to divide THE GRASSY LOT. VIPS to the right, all of the rest of the world to the left...handicap spots also. Keep in mind this was a large field that I was told used to have tomatoes in it?? (at least that's what I told people who made comments of it being a cow pasture) The hill was very steep to drive down to it, and frankly I felt bad sending the elderly volunteers who were visibly handicapped down there to park. No one complained as they patiently waited to catch a shuttle ride back up.

Things changed when we ran out of VIP spots in THE PAVED AREA. The VIP's got sent to THE GRASSY LOT (the same one that the handicap spots were in) with assurances that a shuttle would be waiting for them as they parked. That's when the complaints started! The VIP's were not happy campers. Now I know that without the VIP's there would not be an event, nor a need to use the help of sweet older volunteers. It is sort of sad when people who make a nice living out of the strength and coordination of their bodies complain that they had to park too far, and folks who cannot navigate without the use of a walker get put in the same area and smile because they are just happy to be there helping out.

I came to the conclusion that we are ALL VIP's especially the ones in life who go about their business with a heart full of gratitude no matter what parking lot they get put in.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Pecan Tart Society

Maybe the coffee shop needed to be busier, maybe I had just a wee bit too much time on my hands. I would like to think that profound thoughts were just a part of coffeehouse ambiance. What ever the reasons, one morning as I was setting out the days baked offerings I found myself in a dilemma as to which pecan tarts to display for sale. This shouldn't pose too much of a problem since the answer is obvious.

The pretty ones.

Not the ones that bubbled just a bit too much over the side, or had a crack in their pastry.

The pretty ones.

THOSE are the ones people will buy, and pay full price for I might add.

In walks early morning regular Forest, who usually is unable to utter any form of communication before his "shot in the dark"... (espresso lingo for a regular cup of coffee with a shot of espresso added), and in his case copious amounts of half and half and honey.

"It's not fair!" I state as I pull his shot.

He looked at me, knowing I was just getting started on this one. "In a perfect world there would be no segregation of pretty pecan tarts and the not so pretty ones." "Tarts are judged by how they look on the outside and whether they are just as tasty, maybe even a bit more so, does not count. The attractive ones are given full honor, are paid full price and taken home to be ogled and awed at before being consumed. Most likely if they were overcooked or undercooked, all of that would be unimportant...because they look good. Placing them side by side, the unpretty ones are destined to get marked down in price. No one will buy them at full price. Keep in mind these pecan tarts may be the moistest, flakiest, most yummy of them all but because of their exterior presentation, they are not deemed worthy of full value."

How tragic is that?

More tragic is that by this judgment, this placement in the bargain basket, many people miss out on how delicious these not so pretty tarts truly are. Granted some are burned and hard and there just is no covering up their flaws...this isn't about them, this is about the ones that ARE good and that get passed by because of some crack in their pastry or over-bubbliness of their fill. Perhaps we need to look beyond the exterior flaws, and decide for ourselves.

A person might get more than they bargained for.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Letting Good In

Having just returned from a wonderful little hike in Portland's Washington Park (we like to explore the trails at the Hoyt Arboretum) I am filled with gratitude for the awesome beauty that this world has to offer. Walking amongst the trees with my friend Nate and Lucy the dog, I was finally able to take a few deep breaths, (actually I took more than a few since I am a tad out of shape!) and let some positive thoughts in.

There is alot of woes in the world.

Children being held hostage and killed at school in Russia, hurricanes destroying peoples homes and dreams in Florida, politicians saying whatever it takes to get elected but deep down you know that they most likely don't give a damn whether you have health coverage or not....and on and on.

So when I get a chance to go out and let peaceful good feelings sink in that I get from a walk in the woods, I do. Maybe I can't do much to help/and or fix the woes in the world, however I do know that by allowing good in, some is bound to come out. This moment is all we actually can do anything about so why not do all I can to make it one that adds a plus instead of a minus in the whole scheme of things? I need all the help I can get. A quiet walk in the woods is a good start.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

A Kick in the Arse

Making the decision to move from the coast to Portland was not easy. When choosing which road to take, I often wind up on the uncharted, needing four wheel drive, stuck in the muck path. Having easy access to my sandy, salty beach sanctuary sure seemed like reason enough to stay. There was this little dilemma however called lack of work...

Which followed me to the city.

No work, money, or beach within easy reach and the first of the month right around the corner. I needed a substitute sanctuary! The answer? Powell’s City of Books. Depending on ones color choice a person can escape into the vast collection of the written word and leave their everyday woes behind. It was on one of these sojourns when I found a recommended book for an aspiring yet unmotivated writer such as myself. I was doubtful to its usefulness as there are times in ones life when encouraging words, written or spoken, do not reach a despondent soul. What I needed was a kick in the arse, which I found within Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.

I was hooked after reading the book jacket.

Anne Lamott not only shared vast amounts of wisdom on the nuts and bolts of writing. She understands the difficulty of actually getting down to it. Words and the need to express oneself may be swirling around inside of a person, however putting pen to paper can be tough. Especially if one has tuned in to what she refers to as radio station KFKD. Anne warns, “if you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo.” Playing “songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything that one touches turns to shit...”

I needed that reminder.

It was time to turn that station off or at the very least find a different station and get on with one of the reasons for the move to the city. I wanted to write. I had ‘blah blahed’ for too many years about the desire to make a commitment to my writing, to mySELF, to see what Laura was all about. Life had been my excuse. Too much work, not enough time, bills need to be paid...but where and HOW to begin??

Bird by bird.

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. (It) was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’” This encouraging story by Anne is what grabbed my attention, however, her wit and insight throughout the book is what held it.

Thank you Anne Lamott for sharing, I think your father had good advice.

*a note from miss mooty...I wrote this essay to enter a contest at a bookstore to win free books! The question asked was "What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?"

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Sound of Crickets

It has been an unusually warm summer here in the Northwest. With the warmer evenings I have noticed an old familiar "song" that reminded me of my years in Arizona. Crickets. I had been living on the coast, and never heard them there, so I got curious as to the why I now heard them in the city. I made a mental note to consult "the professor" (my nickname for google when I have a question) to find out the whys and hows of these noisy little bugs.

Only the males make noise. That's right guys, you won't hear ONE SOUND coming from the females. The males chirp to attract the females. This chirping is created by something called stridulation, which is the term used to describe when one body part of an insect is rubbed against another part of their body. They use their front wings to make the sound. One cricket was listened to by a zoologist who documented his chirping of no less than 42,000 times over a period of four hours! (this documentation might of been different if the zoologist had provided a female or two to listen to the poor little fella). Unfortunately in the great outdoors they make such a racket that the noise also lets predators know their location. It is amazing what sort of danger a male will expose himself to, to do what he's gotta do. One cricket source even said that once the male has succeeded with attracting a female to mate, he dies. And we thought our life is tough.

I discovered a few more interesting facts about these eco-friendly good for your soul little insects. In China ladies from the Imperial Palace kept crickets in golden cages to provide soothing "music" as they went to sleep. They are nocturnal omnivorous who some say you can use to determine temerature by the number of chirps. Someone even came up with a formula to do this!

The simplest method is to count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 40. The sum usually approximates the temperature within a few degrees Fahrenheit.

The original formula for determining temperature from cricket chirps appears to have been published in 1897 by A.E. Dolbear, a physics professor at Tufts College. Since Dolbear’s time, formulas have been devised for various species. Here are Three formulas which may or may not actually work! In all cases, T is the temperature and N is the number of chirps per minute.

Field Cricket: T = 50 + (N - 40 / 4)

Snowy Tree Cricket: T = 50 + (N - 92 / 4.7)

Katydid: T = 60 + (N - 19 / 3)

I am getting much to carried away with all of this! When I all I wanted to do with this blog is to clear my conscience of a cricket experience I had when I returned home to visit Arizona. I had been living in Alaska for quite a few years and had even forgotten the soothing night noise that these guys orchestrate. So I was actually excited when I heard a cricket in my room the first night home. All I can say is that if you put one horny cricket in a room with an exhausted traveler...the can of Raid will be brought out and the need to silence the mating call will override even the kindest spirit. In my defense, my intention was originally not to destroy the little guy. He was in my room though! He would sing, I would turn on the light (to gently remove him to the great outdoors mind you) and he would shut up. Light would go out, I would lay down, and he would start up again. Repeat scene. Light on, silence, look around, light off. By three in the morning after an attempt to slam a window on him, the can of Raid was grasped in my hand and I was looking to silence him once and for all. I never found him, I woke up with my hand still clasping the can of Raid.

I guess now I am glad I never did find him...

information obtained from:
"House Cricket" Stuart M. Bennett
"Crickets and Temperature"

Monday, August 16, 2004

Wordiness Is Death to a Conversation

It was during a conversation today that I had a flashback to something that one of my professors used to say quite often. "Wordiness is death to your paper!" The conversation I am referring to took place between a young person at the boys and girls club I work at and myself. His question was if he could have one of the sodas that was in our walk-in cold storage. My reply to the young man's question was "no". He asked "Why not"? I answered, "Because".

He let it go at that.

I smiled thinking how pleasant our conversations could be if we edited our responses and kept them simple. Too much information is usually released and for the most part it is unnecessary and uses up too much time and energy. It seems as if we need to justify our every response when questioned and if truth be told getting down to the nitty gritty as to why we feel a certain way about certain situations can prove most difficult at times! "Because" pretty much covers a whole lot of ground especially if we are not sure what type of ground it is that we are justifying.

If asked why I chose to muse on this particular subject I guess my reply would have to be...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Clean your Window

No, this isn't another "how to" on the abc's of the actual act of cleaning your windows. There are already plenty of expertise guides on that, and anyway this is a sunday morning and my brain is not in the "how to" mode. What I AM musing about however is my attitude. Lately it sucks. With every little setback it seems to tip more towards the negative side versus the I can succeed, life IS okay side. Which brings me back to window cleaning.

In one of my many occupations I at one time worked at the tenth hole of one of the most beautiful golf courses in the United States. This was a private club and the members would call me from a TREE at the ninth hole to order up a special sandwich which I would have ready for them as they drove up (got to keep those carts moving) Incidentally for those of you who have worked, or are working in the food service business, this was one of the most perfectly timed, no stress, food situations I have ever been involved in!

There was alot of time to look out the window.

Keep in mind as we look out our windows the view may change a bit due to weather or whatever, but basically you have a certain scene to work with and that's that. After a monsoon (that's an Arizona come on way fast, leave just as fast PMS'ing rain storm) my window view would become very dirty. I would attempt to ignore it, however I soon figured out that my particular view out the window sure looked better when I cleaned off all the crap from the storm. The view was still the same, the window, same. However when I took the time to wipe away the remains of the storm my view became a shinier, clearer, more pleasant one. It wasn't even that much work.

So when my attitude becomes a bit cloudy with too much stuff.

I clean it.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Sundaes at the Park

Who could resist an invitation to attend the 25th annual "Sundae in the Park"?? With flyers announcing ice cream and refreshments at old fashioned prices, entertainment, fun and games...not to mention SHADE (yea, it's been a hot time in the city with NO AIR CONDITIONING).

True to the advertising ice cream was indeed handed out at unbelievably low prices! 25 cents for a cone, 50 cents for a sundae (with sprinkles on top even!) AND the nice guys taking the quarters didn't even card you if you went through the line twice. Popcorn and people watching was FREE, which made the event even sweeter.

It was a good time.

A time to relax and for a moment forget credit card payments, too much work, too little work, whether you are overweight, underweight or just plain un-enthused with life in general.

A time to keep it simple.