Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Failure Day

Every now and then, at the end of my acting class in college, someone would stand up and proclaim "Today was my failure day," to which the class would respond with a rousing round of applause.

Permission to fail gave us the freedom to make bold choices (a phrase we heard all the time from our teacher. "Make a bold choice!" "Make a bolder choice!" "Make a bold gesture!" - nobody was allowed to timidly raise their hand in class). It's OK to risk if it's OK to fail.

I have proclaimed today a failure day. I failed at shopping. I failed at mailing Christmas cards (mailed all the ones WITHOUT stamps, not the ones with stamps. Discovered 5 hours later). I failed at singing.

It seemed that each thing I tried to step out and get done, didn't work out quite right. I got pretty frustrated with myself.

In declaring a Failure Day, I'm trying to give myself the grace to acknowledge the failures and move on. I was beginning to get out of this funk I've been in for the past, oh, 5 months. I can't let one day reverse the tide.

Tomorrow I am taking The May Queen to see the stage musical Mary Poppins.

After today's Failure Day, I'm hoping tomorrow will be Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stretching my free dollars...

I'm feeling kind of Grinch-ish as we head into this Christmas season, and I'm working -though not particularly successfully- on getting past that (it's not so much about the holiday, and more just general Grinch-i-ness, which is part of why I'm not blogging. You don't want to read my whiny naval gazing, and I don't want to write it).

BUT... I did get to go shopping with some FREE money the other day from the fine folks at Blogher and Home Goods... you can read about it on my review blog, Painted Maypole Reviews. And enter for a chance to win some FREE money (er... gift card... you know...) of your own.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry's Pants

Alejna has been posting about pants lately (check out her ghostly pants photo, and wish her a happy 4th Blogiversary!) and I have been rewatching Harry Potter movies in preparation for film 7, and got to thinking that the titles are pretty fun to PANTsify. So, Alejna, this is my blogiversary gift to you.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Pants (or, for you Canadians and Brits... Philosopher's Pants)
Voldemort is hiding behind Quirrel's Pants. In the movie, Quirrell is played by Jim Carrey, who has much experience making his butt talk.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Pants
A secret chamber filled with magical pants is unlocked at Hogwarts. When Ginny Weasley puts on a pair of the enchanted pants she finds herself falling under the fearsome power of Voldemort.

Harry Potter and the Pants of Azkaban
Harry learns that there is something worse than Dementors: the pants they make the prisoners of Azkaban wear. Truly scary.

Harry Potter and the Pants of Fire
The flaming pants help Harry win the Triwizard Tournament. Madame Pomfrey is able to heal his first degree burns, but expresses concerns about his future ability to procreate.

Harry Potter and the (Dis)Order of the Pants
Harry and a group of other wizards form a secret society. Their goal? To bring about the destruction of Voldemort by disorganizing their OCD closets.

Harry Potter and the Half-Pants Prince
Harry discovers a potions book full of secret potions and spells, the most dangerous of which casts a spell to half the wearer's pants. This proves to be nearly fatal in the winter at snowy Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Pants
Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to destroy the three pants of Death and restore peace to the wizarding world.

Monday, November 8, 2010

check mate

There seem to be two reasonable schools of thought for how to inform your child about the basics of sexual intercourse:

1. Choose a time to give them a basic rundown and then give them "the talk." This can be spread out over several "talks" as a child matures

2. Wait until they ask questions, then give them honest, straightforward answers that tell them enough, but not more than they really want to know at the time. In this way mete out the information as they are naturally curious.

(I have ruled out the option of just setting my child in front of a lot of R rated movies until she figures it out. Of course, R rated movies wouldn't necessarily teach her about reproduction.... just idealized sex)

My husband and I seem to be going with option 2. I mean, if we don't actually sit down and have the talk, then I guess we're waiting for her to ask questions. And of course we hope she asks us, and not her friends on the playground.


I think my parents went with #1. I don't remember any conversations, but clearly remember the book Where Did I Come From?, and even picked up a copy at a library book sale years ago thinking I might use it when the time is right. And maybe I will. But when I looked at it a year or so ago it seemed like a LONG way to go about it.

Last night we were reading Nuts at bedtime, and there was a bit about squirrel mating. At the end of the chapter I asked The May Queen if she knew what mating was. She didn't.

"Mating is how animals make babies."


She seemed uninterested in knowing more, so I left it there.

How about you? Have you chosen an option? Tell me your stories!

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Bunny 2004
This was taken at Easter, but she wore the same thing for Halloween that year. I remember that the only way I could get her to smile was by singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider. Do you see him climbing up the water spout?

Here she is at Halloween. Cute, but you can't see the face or ears on the costume. She was barely two, and this was the first year we trick or treated. We probably only went to 15-20 houses, and she wanted to go inside them all!

flop eared bunny 2010
We had actual bunny ears, I swear, but they must have been a casualty of the move. We decided these dog ears would work for a flop eared bunny. When she stood up the tail was actually in the right spot. The neighborhood we're in now has pretty tightly packed homes, and she got a LOT of loot, even with coming back early because she was tired of walking.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mourning and Celebration

cross posted from my project365 blog, View from the Maypole:

My grandfather died last week... here are some pictures...

84 : 365
Three Kleenex Breakfast
When The May Queen woke up we broke the news that her Great Grandfather had died. She barely touched her pancakes, and when her plate was cleared this is what was left on the table.

85 : 365
Sanibel at Sunset
A view from the plane

86 : 365
Young Driver
Driving the golf cart was a kick for me as a child, and The May Queen and her cousin were thrilled to be deemed old enough to drive it themselves. My cousin was patient- and strong stomached- enough to let them drive round and round the cul de sac. I love the joy on their faces and the way the sunlight is captured. Grandpa would have been smiling. And then telling them not to drive with two feet ("You'll strip my brakes!" ... like mother, like daughter!)

87 : 365
I have a picture at this same beach of a 2 year old May Queen holding hands with her great grandfather... wait... let me see if I can dig it up...
There it is. Nov. 2004. We decided that taking the kids to the beach was a great way to honor Grandpa... by doing something he loved doing.

88 : 365
Fancy Dishes

We spread out the stuff, and each took what we wanted to remember, and thought we would use. The rest... most of it... we boxed up to donate.

89 : 365
Grandpa's Garden

Still blooming...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

My grandfather died Monday night. I'm relieved it went quickly, overall, but still sad. The May Queen cried when we told her the next morning.

I realize that although all of my grandparents saw me into adulthood, this grandfather was the only one whom I really knew as an adult. He visited our family, and we visited him. He told stories of his time in the Navy, of his childhood, of his love for my grandmother. We went sight seeing together, we played games around the table, and we enjoyed each others company. Like friends.

But he was still always my Gramps.

And I'll miss him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

< three

I don't know how to tell the story of my grandfather dying.

Every day there is at least one e-mail in my inbox documenting his rapid decline. It's only been three weeks since he was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer.

It's been less than three months since I last saw him. Since we walked together, and sat chatting poolside while the kids played.

Three months before that he was still regularly playing tennis, before stopping for his usual summer break as the heat in Florida became too unbearable and his usual partners made their summer treks back north.

But three days ago my mother sat at my kitchen table, tears in her eyes, telling me what it's like to be watching her father die. Preparing herself to fly back to Florida the next day to stay with him until the end. Which cannot be far off. It is happening incredibly quickly, although the days of caring for him creep by incredibly slowly.

Growing up I knew I was lucky to have all four of my grandparents alive. All 4 were there for my confirmation. My high school graduation. My college graduation. My wedding.

My grandfather is the last man standing.

He has lived a full and active 86 years. He will likely die in his own home (thanks to Hospice and the generous care of his three children).

The May Queen has a special relationship with him. For the longest time she insisted he be called Great Grandpa [Maypole]. If I left his surname out in referring to him, I was scolded. He would pretend to nap on the couch while she piled him high with stuffed animals, then he would "wake up" and scare her. She would giggle. He would grab an animal and chase her in circles around the house. He played endless games with her. They sat at our kitchen table and colored. He allowed her to dress him up in the silliest outfits.

impromptu dance party, May 2007

When she heard that her Great Grandpa was sick, she immediately wanted to go visit him. I debated it, but quickly realized it would not be good. I want her to remember him as he was, not as he is now. They just had a wonderful time together this summer. She said to my mother "you're so lucky you get to go see Great Grandpa." It broke my heart. Is it lucky to watch and wait for your father to die?

But we have been lucky. The May Queen has been lucky. Because she got to know him, her great grandfather.
Nov 2008

Monday, October 11, 2010

God Loves Fags

I'm reposting this. I wrote it in December 2007. With the recent rash of gay suicides due to bullying, I feel it is, sadly, still relevant:

Let me begin by simply stating that I truly believe that GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:16). I'll come back to that.

My connection with this issue fully began when I was a freshman in college. A dear friend of mine in my dorm had grown up in a very traditional but loving Baptist home. He was also gay. He struggled mightily with this, and knowing that I was a Christian, too, he would talk with me about it. We spent hours talking about it and reading the passages in the Bible that people always pull out in their arguments against homosexuality. The following fall the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (the denomination I belong to) put out the first draft of its Human Sexuality study. This study was, in my opinion, a fantastic exploration of these bible passages, and came to really great conclusions about how to interpret them and how to create an ethic within the church for supporting homosexual individuals and relationships. Unfortunately 2 years later they released a second draft that reflected the outcry of many of their members, and they backed off from some of their previous assertions. I wrote a very detailed letter expressing my disappointment (they also took out a section on how masturbation is OK, saying it was so obvious it didn't even need to be in there. The fact that it made front page news when the study was first released seems to me to indicate that it DID need to be in there!) I am saddened to say that 15 years later they are still "studying" the issue. All of the studies have, as far as I can tell, come to the same conclusions as the first one, but it seems they are afraid of angering the people and dividing the church, and therefore are afraid to take the stand I wish they would make for this very important issue. But I digress a wee bit. (edited 10/11/10: In 2009 there was a big national church body vote on this issue, and the Lutheran church has finally changed so many of its previous positions. This came after much prayer and research. It has caused a great deal of division, but I think it is SO IMPORTANT that we stand by this. You can read the whole statement on the official church beliefs regarding sexuality here)

Back to those pesky bible passages. There are some pretty good resources out there that deal with them in detail (see resources section below) so I won't dissect them all... I will say that I believe the Bible to be silent on the issue of a committed homosexual relationship. None of the passages in the bible speaks to a partnership, a committed and loving relationship. They refer to temple prostitution, the disregard of hospitality laws, the abuse of young boys by older men. Both the Hebrew and the Greek languages have many, many more words that describe things that we boil down to one word (love, for instance) and the words used in these various passages often give a much clearer description of what is being discussed than our translations suggest.

What is clear to me in the Bible is that GOD IS LOVE. So... if the Bible is silent on the issue of a committed homosexual relationship, that is the first thing I look to when I think of how to respond. With love.

Because I think the Bible is silent on the issue, I think it is folly for us to say that homosexuality is a sin. I don't think it is. Let me repeat that. I DON'T THINK THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN. However, even if you do take the position that homosexuality is a sin, I think you HAVE to remember that GOD IS LOVE and respond with love. There is no excuse for saying things like "God hates fags." I believe that God loves everyone... murderers and child molesters and gamblers and alcoholics and shoplifters and little white liars and me and you. That doesn't mean that he likes everything we do. But he still loves the person. Take a look at David. The man was a lying, murdering and adultering fool. And yet still today we look to him as a pillar of faith. If God can love him, God can love anyone.

Some people in the church look at homosexual relationships a bit like they look at divorce. They believe it is not what God intended, but see them both as a symptom of our fallen world, and feel that if, because of our fallen world, the only way 2 people can experience that committed love relationship is with a person of the same sex, that we should support that relationship. They welcome gays and lesbians into their congregations and support their decisions. They don't try to "cure" them, but rather accept them as they are. I think this is a very loving Christian response.

I want to make sure I haven't muddied the waters too much here. Again, I don't think that homosexuality is a sin. I also acknowledge that I could be wrong. I may get to heaven and God may say "Painted Maypole, you were wrong." But if that happens I believe He will say "but you acted in LOVE for your fellow brothers and sisters, and that's what matters."

So for me, the biggest issue is that Christians need to respond to gays and lesbians with LOVE. I think that as a whole we have not, and this saddens me greatly.

I work in the theatre, and so you would expect that I know a lot of gay and lesbian people. I do. I also have other friends and family who are gay, including 2 of The May Queen's godfathers. We attended their wedding, and they have been wonderful friends to us and faithful godfathers to MQ.

Since that time I first sat in a room with my college friend and discussed faith and love and relationships and so much more... I have worked for social justice in this area. When I was in Los Angeles I performed and conducted theatre for social justice workshops with Fringe Benefits, a theatre company with a mission that began as building bridges between GLBTQ youth and their straight peers, but has lovingly expanded to "promote the idea that every man, woman and child deserves to be treated with dignity and respect." I also worked with my congregation in Los Angeles to adopt a statement that clearly outlines a welcome to gays and lesbians.

Where I am right now, both physically and life situations wise, I am not currently actively involved with a group that works on this issue. But it is the main issue that causes me to write letters to my government. I speak up about the issue with friends and acquaintances. I pray about it. It weighs heavily on my heart. I have seen friends and family hurt (both physically and emotionally) by the prejudices that surround this issue. I have seen a dear friend and excellent pastor leave the ministry because he could not openly be in a relationship, and it was tearing him apart.

I believe that God is Love. Denying marriage and other rights to gays and lesbians is not displaying that love. Making demeaning remarks is not displaying that love. Trying to "cure" a homosexual is not displaying that love.

Last week I was reading an article about "The Little Rock Nine" (9 black students attending an otherwise white high school in 1957). A picture showed a protester carrying a sign that read "Save our Christian America."

It struck me as the same type of argument that people are using now to keep gays and lesbians from legally marrying. They claim it is against our Christian values. That it cheapens the idea of marriage. I disagree. I think we cheapen the idea of marriage by being exclusionary. I think we cheapen the idea of marriage by not allowing people who want to dedicate their lives to each other in a public fashion that chance. I think we go against our Christian values when we do not act in loving acceptance of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

Resources for more information:

Lutherans Concerned - working for full inclusion of GLBT individuals within the Lutheran Church

Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry - not only do I appear on the cover of this book, but inside you will find some wonderful plays, songs and poems for children that teach tolerance and fight bigotry. And the illustrations? Oh.. it's beautiful! Think of it as Free to Be... You and Me for a new generation.

Sexual Fulfillment for Single and Married, Straight and Gay, Young and Old - this book is written by Herbert W. Chilstrom and Lowell O. Erdahl, two retired Lutheran bishops

The Nature of Sexual Orientation - link to actual article by John R. Ballew, M.S.

Affirmation - this United Methodist movement provided me with lots of ideas and resources when I was working within my own Lutheran congregation

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Just Like Sarah Jessica Parker

That's me. Just like Sarah Jessica Parker.

Not Sex in the City Sarah Jessica Parker.

Go further back.

Way, way back.

When I was a kid I watched Square Pegs. I though Sarah Jessica Parker, and her braces, were really cool.

Then, I had to get braces. Not so cool.

But here's the scoop.

They are even LESS cool when you get them at age 36.
I've been uncomfortable with my smile for a while now, and actually decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, last winter. I figured I'd rather be embarrassed about my braces for a little over a year than with my smile for the rest of my life. I looked into braces then, but decided to wait until we moved to start treatment.

So... on September 20th I got braces. Again.

And oh. my. word. did they ever hurt. I basically took painkillers for 5 days straight. The second night I had them my husband reported that I was crying in my sleep.

They are only a little bit tender now, but I still have to be really careful what I eat. If I eat anything too firm they will ache for HOURS. I don't remember being this miserable last time around. And I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance (I was in labor for 36 hours before I let them give me any drugs).

So right about now I'm second guessing this whole braces thing.

But in 14-16 months when they are off and I can smile confidently? I'm pretty sure I'll say it was all worth it.

And that will be my mantra. Until 2012.

At least alcohol is a soft food.

(ok... as I tried to find an image of SJP in braces to put in this post, I realize it was the OTHER GIRL (aka Amy Linker) in Square Pegs who had braces. Well, then, I guess I'm just like Tom Cruise. He even had his braces as an adult. But if Oprah invites me on to her show (she has this last season. It could happen) I promise not to jump on her couch)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why I haven't been blogging

* I am applying for jobs left and right. If it's full time and doesn't require a specific skill I don't have, I've applied for it. We've put in an offer on a house, a short sale. Our home in Louisiana hasn't sold. The short sale may take a while, but when it finally comes through, my employment will go a long ways toward paying for that second mortgage. This was never part of the plan, but plans change.

*The May Queen's birthday is this weekend, which means a party tomorrow after school and a family gathering over the weekend. The school refused to give out addresses or phone numbers so there is still one little girl we haven't been able to officially invite. She keeps forgetting to give her number to MQ at recess.

*The post I most want to write requires a picture, which I haven't yet uploaded from computer.

*My grandfather is dying of cancer. Quickly. While time wise this doesn't effect me terribly (he's in Florida, I'm in Michigan) it sort of contributes to the overall "I don't have the time and energy to sit and naval gaze via my blog" malaise I'm feeling.

*We've had houseguests. Trips to the park and games of Scrabble and extra kids in the house. They're gone, but I still haven't cleaned up the mess.

*This is the year of the activity. MQ has ballet once a week and swimming twice a week, and because we're not actually in the community where she goes to school and attends these activities, that's a lot of driving and/or killing time between school and said activity.

I have been posting some photos on project365 blog, but I'm behind over there, as well.

I kind of miss blogging, and I kind of don't. Whatever that means.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Winner of i'd know you anywhere

I've announced a winner for my i'd know you anywhere book, but you'll have to go here to find out who it is.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I feel like I haven't been the best parent of late. I have been short tempered, not particularly present, impatient, and not very creative (school bus themed cupcakes aside). I haven't been terrible or negligent or abusive, and I have had some good moments (campfire and s'mores, nightly reading, etc), of course. But still... I'm lacking, and I know it. Stressful times can do that. I know I'm not doing things the way I want, yet the ability to change is proving difficult.
On Sunday we spent the afternoon touring a local lighthouse. It was a beautiful day, and The May Queen was quite patient and well behaved as we waited (and waited... they weren't at all efficient) for our turn to go up the narrow winding staircase.
She was being loving towards her aunt and grandmother who had joined us for the trip. She was entertaining herself with the rocks and bird skull she found along the shore.After we finally made it through the lighthouse we were waiting for the bus that would return us to the museum where our car was parked. We knew it would be a bit of a wait and I quickly saw that her patience, good behavior and ability for self control were waning. I felt irritated and tired.

And then it happened.

"Wanna play a game of I Spy?" I asked.

We spent the next half an hour or so playing I Spy. A simple enough diversion.But in that brief moment of turning away from the irritation and finding a quick, simple and fun solution, I felt it. A returning to the mom I want to be.
I spy a light, guiding the way.

Don't forget to check out my review of i'd know you anywhere for a chance to win my copy of the book!

Friday, September 10, 2010

i'd know you anywhere

I've written a book review for Laura Lippman's new novel i'd know you anywhere. Follow the link to my review site and check it out, and leave a comment there for a chance to win the book!

happy friday!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Third grade

It's the obligatory back to school post!

The May Queen has been looking forward to school starting pretty much since we arrived in Michigan, because she knows that school is a good place to make friends. She had an extra long summer, as Louisiana school ended before Memorial Day. All her LA friends started back up at the beginning of August, but here she had to wait until after Labor Day. She has had her outfit picked out for weeks. This is the first time she hasn't had to wear a uniform, and she's delighted.

Her classroom is an old kindergarten room (the school is now just 3-5 grades) so is extra roomy and fun. She's pretty excited about the lockers. And the Garfield posters. Garfield is a latest obsession.

She'll take the bus "home" every day, to my husbands office, where he'll either bring her home or I'll pick her up (since we don't yet live in the community). She was SO excited to ride the bus, as her private schools have never had buses before. She ran off the bus to give me a hug (yay! melt the Mommy heart) but then declared that the bus was not what she expected. "It's much louder!" And the boy behind her kicked the seat the whole way. She's pretty much decided that the bus is no fun. I could have told you that, kid.

But she did like the bus cupcakes I made to celebrate her first day. She had good things to say about everything else, and didn't seem upset that she played by herself all recess (on the tire swing. Everyone else was supposedly playing something she didn't want to play). I hope she branches out today, but I'm not pushing as she seems content.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I haven't forgotten

The fifth anniversary of Katrina came and went. I didn't post anything. It's not because I wasn't thinking about it. I woke up that morning and put on my fleur de lis necklace and earrings, as small tokens of my heavy heart.

It's odd not to be there. I haven't been watching news coverage. I haven't even watched the Spike Lee movie on HBO, although I am debating recording it. I'm not sure I have the heart to watch it right now.

It has been five years. It is no longer the only conversation in town. It shouldn't be. But it is so much a part of the fabric of the city. Lives were changed. When a community struggles though something like that... it changes you. Forever. It's good to stop and recognize that.

Nearly every New Orleans musician has written a song about Katrina. You really should check out the CD Feeder Bands on the Run for a small taste. Here is one of my favorites...I actually wrote about it in 2008, but this video wasn't made until last year:

Past Katrina Anniversary posts:

2009: Remember

2008: Flashback 3 Years - Hurricane Katrina an edited (but still quite long) rundown of all the e-mails I sent to family and friends during our evacuation from Katrina

2007: I Know What it Means to Love New Orleans a love letter to New Orleans, complete with pictures

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hatred and Fear as American Values?

I was in New York City when I first heard about the controversy surrounding the proposed community center at Park51. You know, the "ground zero mosque."

(Check out that link above, it's the official link for the community center. The more I read about it, the more I think it will be an amazing thing for the community. Unfortunately, it's getting off to a spectacularly bad start, thanks to its opponents)

I remember talking a bit about it with my friend, sort of shaking my head thinking how ridiculous it all was, and assuming it would disappear in a few days.

I'm truly dismayed that people are still talking about it. Bile rises every time I see someone posting on Facebook that they like "I do not support a mosque being built 600 feet from the World Trade Center." It amazes me that the same people who are always hearkening back to our founding fathers and the inerrancy of the constitution are willing to completely ignore the whole "freedom of religion" thing. Because, as Sarah Palin put it, it rubs people the wrong way. I watched an interview with her (never a good idea for my blood pressure) wherein she accused President Obama of being out of touch with what the American people were "feeling."


President Obama had just said that they have every legal right to build a center there, and she is talking about peoples FEELINGS. It's our government's job is to uphold the LAW (and in the next breath Palin accuses President Obama of swaying to polls... aka, public opinion, or "feeling." Please decide, which is it? Is he too swayed by peoples feelings, or not in touch with people's feelings?) It does not matter whether the President thinks (or FEELS) it's a good idea or not. His job is to uphold the law. And the law says that a religious group can build a place of worship on this piece of private property.

Do we, as a country, really want to get into the business of deciding where it is appropriate for a house of worship? To decide that one religion can be in this location, but another not? That is a very, very, very slippery slope. We are either for freedom of religion, or we aren't. If we start deciding that certain religions don't belong in certain areas we are beginning to sound a lot like Nazi Germany.

And here's the thing... people's feelings are hurt because a community center, to be run by Muslims (and that will include a place of worship), is being built near the site of the World Trade Center. The only reason people find this offensive is because they associate all Muslims with the terrorists responsible for the tragedy on 9/11. They can say all they want that they don't, but they prove themselves otherwise. And we cannot stand idly by while they make that horrible connection.

I hate to think that I, as a Christian, will be lumped together with extremists who bomb abortion clinics or carry "I hate fags" signs. (although I know that to some, I am lumped together with them).

The right wing talking heads continue to whip their listeners into a frenzy over a small piece of real estate that most of them will never come anywhere near in their lifetime. They speak only of a "Mosque at Ground Zero", and I've encountered people who think that this is somehow the nation's official memorial to to the victims of 9/11. Because that's the way it's being presented. That's the lie that's being perpetuated. That's the distraction that is keeping everyone thinking about something that should not have been anything but possibly a passing notice in the national news. That's the latest item in a long line of fear mongering

And it's appalling.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ashes to Ashes

I did a strange thing last night. I poured the remains of my brother in law from a mason jar into a ziplock baggie.

Before my husband's brother died, he requested that some of his ashes be spread over the Pacific Ocean: the place he had learned to surf, a place of family vacations, a place he loved. We buried some of them in a memorial garden on a cold February day after his memorial service, as the wind blew snow in swirls around us. But the rest will finally be released into the waters of the Pacific this week.

This morning my husband took a plane to California, and I was charged with making sure that the ashes would pass through security. Hence the baggie. Double bagged, actually.

This afternoon the jar was still sitting on the kitchen counter. I decided it might make an interesting subject for today's project365 photograph.

021 : 365
To dust we shall return

You can see that there is still a bit of dust in the bottom of jar.

cross posted from View from the Maypole

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Coming or going?

These days it seems that I don't know if I'm coming or going... having just moved, then made a trip, and returned to my new home... I feel like I'm late to everything as I haven't yet figured out how long it takes to get anywhere, and I can't seem to get out the door any sooner. So it's only fitting that I'm late to join my fellow 365 photographers in Sue's latest endeavor. The idea is to take a picture a day every day for a year. I've set up a separate space (View from the Maypole, feel free to visit me over there, as well!) for all of those pictures, but may occasionally cross post here. Case in point: the pictures below, from my recent trip...I'd been in Michigan for a week, then I hopped on a plane and flew to NYC. Crazy, but the baptism has been scheduled for months! Here are my daily highlights, plus a bonus picture at the end:

I flew to NYC for the baptism, and also tucked down to Philly to visit some friends. (and OH how many times I wished I had taken my good camera. Lesson learned. I hope)

003 : 365
I want to be a part of it

Our plane couldn't land on our first pass over La Guardia (another plane didn't clear the runway in time) so we swooped over Manhattan, and I took some pictures out of my plane window. If only the clouds would have moved out of the way...

004 : 365
Holy Baptism

A window in the chapel of St. Bartholomew, where I became a godmother for the third time

005 : 365
Half: part 1

006 : 365
Half: part 2

My college roomie now has twins. Fraternal, obviously. They turned one right after my visit, and were a pure delight. Also, watching my dear friend parent these girls, and their big brother, was wonderful.

007 : 365
Broadway and 23rd
I had lunch with Magpie (and failed to get a picture! I had meant to, but we talked the whole time and I plumb forgot) but she told me to be sure to check out the art installation. There were identical statues on buildings all around this intersection, teetering high above. I had missed them entirely when I passed below on my way to lunch.

008 : 365
taken with my iphone at the Museum of Natural History

009 : 365

010 : 365
Suitcase living


And here I am with my newest godson, isn't he a doll? And SO sweet. Obviously, I did not take this photograph.

Although it was more than a bit nutty to take off so soon after arrival in my new state, it actually was good for my mental state. I was feeling pretty depressed and a change of focus for a week really brought me back to a better place, and more emotionally ready to come back and throw myself into being in my new home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big Girls Do Cry

**warning - small spoiler alert for Ramona and Beezus**

Tears streamed down my cheeks. I glanced over at The May Queen, and she quickly looked away from me. Bagged crying again, I thought. But then I heard her sniff. She was crying, too. Her knees were pulled in to her chest. I lifted the arm separating our cinema seats, and rested my hand gently on her shoe. I thought she might cuddle into me, but she didn't.

For the rest of the movie she laughed, a little, but not nearly as full heartedly as she had before.

When the movie ended, we walked out, hand in hand.

What made you sad? I asked. I thought I knew, but I wanted to make sure I didn't go delving into stuff that hadn't bothered her.

When the cat died, she sniffed, and began crying again. I picked her up and held her while she wept. Wept. People walked by us, looking both sympathetic and curious.

I'm not sure if it was only the cat dying, and her thinking about OUR cats dying, as she said. Maybe it was that Ramona was probably going to have to move, and we have just moved away from her friends and her house and her school and the only life she's known. Maybe it was the fighting parents. I suspect that, like me, a sad point in a movie gave her a chance to cry and release all sorts of emotions we've been struggling with for weeks. These past few have not been easy. So yes, it's the cat, but it's so much more...intangible things that had everything and nothing to do with the movie.

Regardless, my child has cried over her first movie.

And I forgot to pack the tissues.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

When it rains... it floods

So we have this house that we're staying in, for free, until we're able to buy a house here. It's smaller than our old house, so we planned to leave approximately 1/2 of our belongings in boxes, which we unloaded directly into the basement.

When the movers left at about 6:30 Friday night we were whipped, and went out to eat. When we returned home my husband went down to the basement to discover water. Everywhere. Several inches deep in some places. You know, those places where our boxes were.

We've been on damage control for the last 24 hours. Every box has been examined, and any box that was wet has been unpacked, with the contents spread out to dry. Miraculously enough, we managed to save just about everything, except a few magazines (which, truth be told, we didn't try to save). The sump pump has been replaced, the basement floor mopped and bleached, and all of our belongings now sit on pallets, raising them several inches off of the floor, in case that new pump doesn't do the trick.

I still have no idea where my pots and pans are. It took me until about an hour ago to get the smoke detectors to stop beeping (the batteries were dying, and then the replacement batteries were apparently also too weak).

And as if all of this weren't enough... while we were out to eat on Friday that storm that soaked our basement knocked out the power in the restaurant where we were eating, and at my in-laws. They aren't due to have power again until late Sunday night. So my MIL, FIL, and SIL (plus her two dogs) are also staying here, because my FIL can't sleep without his breathing machine.

I'm trying to keep positive, but I have to admit, this song keeps coming to mind:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I stood in the kitchen, staring at the cabinets. I thought If I just look at the cabinets and the counter, everything seems normal. I let my mind swim blankly for a moment, took a deep breath, and looked up. Past the kitchen counter was the living room, which was decidedly NOT normal. The couches and chair were gone, blue padding crisscrossed the hardwood floors, and assorted boxes and other furniture awaited loading onto the truck rumbling away in front of my house.

That was two days ago. Now everything I own is currently inside of a semi, which is somewhere between here and there. I'm in a hotel room outside of Nashville with The May Queen and two fairly pissed off cats.

And I'm exhausted.

We have not sold the house, but someone at our new church in Michigan has a house that THEY haven't sold, and are allowing us to live there until we can buy. It all came about very quickly, and I'm still spinning from the flurry of activity that led up to where I am now.

I did get in one fabulous trip into the city with friend, a trip that include dinner uptown, music on Frenchmen Street, a trip to some bars in the quarter I had never been to, and one I had, watching the tourists make idiots of themselves on Bourbon Street, an early morning snack, and a return home at 4:30am. Now THAT'S a proper good-bye to NOLA.

I got in some good farewells with some friends, and just didn't have time to even check in with others, and feel a bit like I skipped town.

I'm excited and sad and basically just emotionally whiplashed, but haven't had much time to actually FEEL anything amid the long list of things to get done.

And now... it's time to sleep.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mix Tape

I made and received a lot of mix tapes in high school, and even college. Because of this, I will often hear a song and feel like it should be immediately followed by a particular song.

When Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar On Me ends, I expect to hear the opening chords of AC/DCs You Shook Me All Night Long.

Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man should come right on the heels of Aretha Franklin's Think.

Jungle Boogie should lead into One Way or Another.

The Muppets' singing Coconut should always be followed by Jethro Tull's Songs From the Wood, of course.

What songs do you have permanently glued together in your brain?

Mix Tape, from Avenue Q

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

(five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes) x 14

5 homes
7 cats
1 child
1 love

14 years, measured in love

(and currently 1040 miles between us)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Biting my virtual tongue

Some Facebook statuses I'll never actually post:

Painted Maypole doesn't care what you had for lunch. Unless it was monkey brains.

Painted Maypole can't help but think, every time you post that you need more ammunition or seeds or food for your pink llama, that what you really need is a life.

Painted Maypole finds it really creepy when married couples communicate everyday information to each other via FB wall posts.

Painted Maypole wishes that you were in the 98% of people who don't copy and paste.

Painted Maypole understands that typos happen, but thinks that if you're starting a page for FB you really ought to spell everything correctly.

Painted Maypole can't understand why you post dire warnings about FB invading our privacy, but then constantly run applications that warn you they are going to access all your information.

Painted Maypole will usually deny the use of such applications, no matter how curious she is about the question you answered about her.

Painted Maypole sometimes leaves the FB page open on her computer and walks away for hours, therefore missing your chat. Sometimes she just pretends that she has. You'll never know which it really is.

What are some FB statuses you'll never post?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cities of the Dead

Before The Big Guy left we took a trip into the city to take some pictures in several cemeteries. We visited some of the not famous ones, and got some fun pictures.
Can you find some things living in these cities of the dead?

All photos taken by me. Except the ones that I'm in. But that would be a cool trick, eh?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Here I Am

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you're my God

This morning I sat in a strange sanctuary, singing these familiar words, as tears streamed down my face. The May Queen watched, confused. She snuggled in beside me.

Last week we bid our farewell to our congregation here. There was a big goodbye BBQ, and a final service. It was a bittersweet celebration of our time there and a sending off to our new home and calling. During the service last week I sang with the praise team for the last time, and looked out over the faces of the congregation that has been my family these last five years.

Don't you just hate goodbyes? We had a weekend full of them. It was hard. But today was even harder.

My husband flew to Michigan on Wednesday and is already a part of our new congregation.

But I am still here.

Our national church body has rules. Once the pastor has said his (or her) farewells, the family needs to leave as well. I understand the rules, and how they allow the congregation to move on, etc. Prolonged goodbyes are hard.

But I also don't understand the rules. Not only was that congregation my husband's job, it was MY congregation. The youth volunteers I organized, the kids I led in song at VBS, the praise team that I sang with (and laughed with) each week, the women with whom I studied the bible and prayed. My friends. Like any family things weren't always perfect. But there was grace and much love.

I nearly didn't go to any church this morning. I had a bevy of excuses, not the least of which was that as a pastor's wife I don't ever get to just decide "I feel like sleeping in today." I also had an open house to clean for.

But it was Sunday. I knew I needed to be in worship. The body of Christ is larger than one congregation. I picked a church, and a service, the night before. I had a hard time sleeping last night, and lay in bed this morning praying.

And I got up, got dressed, and went to worship.

It was harder than I imagined. But I showed up, and I'm glad I did. The sermon was on obedience, and quite timely for me, as I struggle to obediently follow the call we've heard from God.

I knew I needed to worship. It wasn't an easy worship this morning. Not at all. It was a broken hallelujah, to be sure.

But... I was there to worship, to bow down, to say that you're my God...

Meeting Jen

This week fellow blogger Jen from a2eatwrite found herself unexpectedly in New Orleans for vacation (to celebrate an anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Jen and Dave!). I found myself unexpectedly not working. We found each other for a great day!

We started off at the sculpture gardens and New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. The power went out right at lunchtime, so we made our way over to Parkway Bakery. The proprietor of the Bed and Breakfast where Jen and her husband were staying recommended it as having some of the best po' boys in town. I had never been before, but I have to say I agree. Yum.

We then went to the French Quarter where I showed them a few of my favorite galleries before pointing them in the direction of the Louisiana Music Factory and heading to pick up the May Queen from camp.

It was a great day. We talked nearly nonstop. Jen and her husband were quite friendly and interesting. Fortunately, I'll be moving near them in Michigan, so I know this time together won't be our last. Jen has promised to take The May Queen and I on a tour of fairy doors. Fun!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

I'm not beyond performing a little Catholic Voodoo (as Rima refers to it), even if I am Lutheran. We buried St. Joseph a week ago.
Do you think St. Joseph would approve of the champagne I have chilling in the fridge, waiting for the offer to come?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today the Big Guy got on a plane for Michigan.

The May Queen and I are still here. We are trying to sell this house. Tomorrow it will have been on the market for 7 weeks.

We've sold two houses before; both in California, both during the housing bubble. We put them on the market, the next day we had lookers, and the following day we had offers at or above our asking price.

We knew it wouldn't happen that quickly this time. But we never imagined that we'd reach the point where The Big Guy was heading to Michigan and we wouldn't be under contract yet. That we wouldn't have a date set for when The May Queen and I would join him.

I was supposed to be teaching camp this week and next, but due to low enrollment, I was downsized. The good news is that The May Queen still gets to go for free. I'm trying to take advantage of the time to get some things done, visit with friends, and enjoy a bit of Louisiana while I still can. But it's throwing me off. I had imagined teaching camp, then maybe having a week or two to close up shop, and then making the move.

I'm not teaching. And there's no end in sight.

I am at sea.

(and a sea filled with oil, at that)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Saying Yes to Michigan

I was born and raised in Michigan. I graduated high school there. I worked my summers there during college. I met my husband there, and we were married there. Then, a week after the wedding, the moving trucks came. They took us to Philadelphia. Later trucks moved us to Los Angeles, California's central valley, and then to here... north of New Orleans.

Later this summer, a truck will move us back to Michigan.

I won't technically be moving "home," although my husband will come darn near close. In high school he worked two jobs in our new town, a small island community southeast of Detroit.

It's a twist in our narrative I didn't see coming. Nearly 6 years ago, when we ended up moving here instead, it was contemplated... being closer to family as The May Queen grew up had its appeal.

We've made a home here in a way we haven't anywhere else. We love New Orleans, and Louisiana. We've stuck through some pretty rough times here.

The reasons are never simple, but the simplest reason for our move back is the health of my in-laws. Both of my husband's parents have had strokes in the last 6 months. My sister in law closed up her home in Massachusetts to move in with them and help care for them (she started a blog about her journey, you can travel Through the Looking Glass and give her encouraging words if you feel so inclined). We feel a need to be closer to help with the care and the decisions. To give the May Queen more time with her grandparents.

We will also be closer to my family... the May Queen will be about an hour from her cousins, and another half an hour will bring her to my parent's home. I still have dear friends there from high school and my days at camp, and although they won't be next door neighbors, I am looking forward to reconnecting with them more than once a year.

Autumn. I can honestly say I am looking forward to fall.

There are good things about this move. But there are big questions, too. What will the new town be like, and will I fit in there? How will I break into yet another theatre community, one that appears quite smaller than the one here. Can I handle snow again?

I'm trying to be excited about the new possibilities. But honestly? I'm tired. And a bit scared. And quite a bit sad.

Yes is not always an easy word to say.

When I was a child there was a marketing campaign with the jingle "Say Yes to Michigan! Say yes, yes, yes, say Yes!"

I couldn't find that song, but this was obviously part of the same campaign.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Buying and Selling

So we're moving. Which means that we are selling our home, and buying a new one.

The markets here and there are quite different.

We painted most of our home beige. We moved out furniture to try to make things look bigger. We replaced some light fixtures to look more modern. We keep our house darn near spotless for potential buyers. We had our home pre-inspected and then went about fixing most of the problems we found, from the air conditioning (new coil and condenser, thank you) to the latches on closet doors. (A bonus in all of this is I am discovering that I can do all sorts of things around the house myself, like fixing the closet door that we rolled a handheld weight in front of for YEARS to keep the cats from opening. 10 minutes and a screwdriver were all it took). We have put our home at a lower price than comparable ones in our neighborhood because we do not have granite countertops and a tiled floor.

The houses we looked at in Michigan (We're moving to Michigan! Sorry... didn't mean to keep that a big secret... you all keep asking... I'll have to write a post soon on the how and why of all that) were much different. Not a single one was freshly painted. Many had lots of old wallpaper (a huge "no-no" according to our agent here) and nearly all had linoleum flooring in the kitchen (Horrors! Oh wait, so does our home...). Only a few had updated kitchens.

We have put in a contingent offer on a home, and just got the inspection back. There were quite a few things wrong with the house. In the market here, I know our agent would encourage us to fix everything the buyer asked for. Up there... we are only asking for the safety issues (one of which is HUGE... sagging ceilings in the whole home. A deal breaker). Asking for anything else would be considered crazy, greedy. (and it's not like houses up there are flying off the market. They sit and sit. In case you haven't heard, the economy in Michigan sucks)

We have spent, literally, THOUSANDS of dollars improving our home to help with the sale. I have put in hundreds of hours of personal labor. But the home owners where we are headed, where we are buying, have not. The market there is just different. The expectations are not the same.

The good news is: homes there are cheaper. And maybe that has something to do with it, but I don't think it does.

Ultimately, I think I like their way better (I'll paint the house the colors I want, anyways). I just wish it were reversed.

(We have a family that seems very interested in home... have asked for information on our yearly energy bills, etc. We're really praying an offer comes in soon. Any prayers and good vibes you could send our way will be much appreciated)

Monday, June 7, 2010

A broken hallelujah

Last night I went down to Frenchmen Street to hear John Boutte. After 2 years of Jazz Fest performances I've wanted to hear him in a smaller venue, and am thrilled I got to do it before I leave. I sat on the wooden floor and watched and listened. The thing about John Boutte that gets me - it got me from the back of a huge tent at Jazz Fest and it got me from 5 feet away in a tiny bar - is how every song he sings is personal. You can see the connection he makes to every single song... each heartbreak and each triumph, each question and each proclamation. It's written all over his face, right through his body, and out through the tambourine he holds in his right hand.

At this year's Jazz Fest he sang Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I sat in the tent with tears streaming down my face. I knew that it very well could be my last Jazz Fest, or at least my last Fest as a Louisiana resident.

Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

I seem to be drawn lately to an exploration of finding the joy even in the sorrow. Of celebrating the good among the bad, hard things. I don't know that I'm doing it well, but I'm trying. Because I want to experience this joy; here and now. But I also need to honor the fact that I am mourning. These things are not mutually exclusive.

I have to put on a fairly happy face about this upcoming move. And there are good things about it, there are. But most of my time, outside of this blog, is spent behind the mask composed of mostly the good things. so here... here I am doing some mourning. Thank you for bearing with me.

It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

He sang Hallelujah again last night. It was even more beautiful. Later I bought two more of his CDs, which I had signed. And then we went out onto the street. Where a band was playing and people were dancing. Somewhere in the festivities I managed to lose my car key. My husband had to come and rescue us.

Still, it was a wonderful evening. New Orleans magic.

And I keep singing...

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I have been overcome with a sudden desire to purchase every New Orleans thing I see. If it has a fleur de lis, I want it. Tshirts, magnets, jewelry. New Orleans artwork and photographs. Foodstuff. CDs. Christmas ornaments. Books.

I want to grab hold of this place and not let go. To take with me all that I can get my hands on.

For the most part, I've managed to control myself. Except for the CDs. My CD collection has grown a lot in the last month or so.

I will probably give in a bit here at the end. Buy a few of the things I keep coming back to.

I'm afraid, though, that if I take too much of NOLA with me... if I hang too much of it on my walls, around my neck, from my Christmas tree... that it will make me more heartsick. Do I need that kind of constant reminder of what I've left behind? How will I embrace my new home if I am constantly yearning for the old? Who will understand these earrings outside of New Orleans?

I can't put NOLA in a box. I can't wrap her in paper and hope she doesn't break, then take her out and install her in Michigan. New Orleans is here.

And in my heart. Always in my heart.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good fences, good neighbors?

Hurricane Katrina knocked down much of the wooden fence in our backyard. When we were putting it back up we decided to put in a gate between our house and the neighbor's house. That way, we reasoned, the girls could go back and forth between the yards without going around the front. However, after we got the posts and cross beams up, we decided we rather liked having no fence there at all, and left it. It remained that way for 4 1/2 years.

We walked through the open space many, many times. For crawfish boils and Easter egg hunts. Games of hide and seek and and tag and soccer. Even a Louisiana snowball fight. The first time I ever ate raw oysters I was summoned to the neighbor's back deck.

We would see the neighbors outside playing and send the May Queen out to play, too.

Now that our house is for sale, the fence has had to be completed. A wooden wall now divides us from the neighbors. Even the area for the gate was filled in. No hinges.

They say that good fences make good neighbors. We found that no fence made the best neighbors of all.

Friday, May 21, 2010

An Owl on the Side of my Road

I was driving home this evening, about 11:30pm and saw a sight I've never seen in my neighborhood: an owl. The bird was sitting atop a sign, looking away from me. I nearly missed seeing it.

Nearly 2 years ago, around The May Queen's 6th birthday, we had a hawk visiting our backyard. Several commenters wrote about the associations and meanings assigned to hawk visitations. So I decided to see what an owl is supposed to represent.

It may be a symbol of mourning and desolation,"a bird of ill omen".

OK... I'm about to make a move across (up?) the country, and am in a bit of mourning about it. Ill omens are not welcome.

The owl could be seen as a keeper of a spirit, "winging it's newly freed soul from the physical world into the realm of spirit".

As far as I know no one close to me has died today.

According to Native Americans an owl can indicate either insight or deception.

Clear as mud.

Of course, everyone is familiar with the idea of an owl as being wise.

I don't feel particularly wise these days. Rather, I feel frazzled, unsure, and fraying at the seams.

I'm not particularly superstitious. I suppose I can wait and see how things play out and then assign this owl the meaning that fits. Regardless, it was a beautiful and haunting sight, this owl on the side of my road.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank You for Singing

I stood in the back of the room and watched as their names were called. The students came forward and were handed their rolled up diplomas. They posed and (hopefully) smiled for their parents, eagerly and hungrily snapping pictures. Then they returned to their seats where the rolled diplomas quickly became spyglasses, trumpets, and even guns.

Yesterday the preschool where I work had its first ever "Stepping Up" ceremony for the 4 year olds.

At the end of the ceremony the 40 or so kids stood at the front, singing the words we sang together at the end of every music class I've taught there over the last 4 years:

(to the tune of Frere Jaques)
Goodbye Friends, Good Friends
Time to Go, Time to Go
Thank You for Singing, Thank You for Singing
Love You So, Love You So.

I stood in the back of the room, signing along with tears in my eyes. Because the kids aren't the only ones moving on. I will never again sit in a circle with those kids, singing those words. Waving goodbye. The hugs and the high-fives that followed will go to another teacher next year.

I fell into the job when the previous teacher moved on to a full time job, and the director of the preschool asked if I was interested. I protested with my lack of formal music training. She said she knew I could sing and do hand motions. And that I would love the kids.

And I have loved those kids. True, there were days I wanted to duct tape a few of them to a chair. But even those kids... I have loved them. It has been a joy to watch them grow. It has also been a joy to watch the teachers who work with them. If you haven't thanked a preschool teacher lately, do it today. It takes an amazing kind of person to do that job.

It has been a gift to me to share music with so many children. One morning as I left for school I said to my husband "I'm off to instill a love of music in small children." I hope that I have. They have helped deepen mine.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Operation Beige - the reveal

I have been working for some time on an undercover operation. I will later write more about it, but these pictures will let you know what's been in the works.

From this...

From this...
to this...

From this...

From this...

From this...

From this...

From this...

From this...
to this...



all original color photos from this tour of my colorful home. All current photos are now Sherwin Williams Biscuit... aka "beige," except the previously polka dot bathroom, which is now simply white. And for the record, I did NOT paint any ceilings beige.