Sunday, October 31, 2004

Several days have passed since I shared this question: "Which of the five senses do you think is most important?"

I have very much enjoyed reading the comments and blog posts that have surfaced looking at this, and wanted to share those I've come across and thank those who've commented here and elsewhere for making blogging so facinating. Each answer has taken its own unique spin, and as any good topic should it seems to have it's own life now in the blogsphere, as readers of these blogs continue the thread beyond the neighborhoods I haunt.

Sound: "Strings scurrying in counterpoint, a sudden whack of what must be a massive drum, then (as if from the top of a canopy of trees) the wondrous spreading tone of a flugelhorn, followed by a quartet of flutes nipping around the edges of that sound."

Sight:"I remember walking through a book-lined living-room to the front door, when I was leaving. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on three walls, thousands of books, and not one that he could read."

Touch: "the skin is the bodies largest organ. There is a reason for this."

An Anatomy of Senses:
Yesterday morning, from the trees
up on the ridge, a cacophony of rusty hinges.
Startled by something, it stills, turns
into an immense rustle of wings.
A thousand blackbirds lift, pivot,
drift high across the field like
a cloud of smoke.

This morning, walking through the fog
on top of the same ridge, I am stopped
by a yellow sugar maple leaf
dangling from an invisible strand of silk
six feet off the ground.
The slight breeze is enough to make it
flip, flop, fly. The forest drips.

These are not metaphors for anything.
Science says, a body at rest,
a body in motion. But only
such abstract bodies really make sense.
Ah, unreal body, home to an unreal sense!
Move one finger and the universe shifts: try it.
Let the small hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

This week I learn that my W-loving dad would have voted for Lieberman given the chance. I can only shake my head. I need something to get me through the next few days, and probably weeks as the post election results are inevitably argued.

A bit of pre/post election advice from:
How to Break the Political Fever


"...what will come of all this on Nov. 3? Some will pick up the morning paper and save it for a souvenir, and the others will wrap up the garbage in it.
What will reconcile us is what has always restored our sanity, and that is the plain pleasures of the physical world, our common love of coffee, the world of apples, the movements of birds, the lives of dogs, the touch of skin. Music. Dancing to music. Shooting baskets. Shooting conservatively, scoring liberally. Lacing up our skates, gliding through the dusk. Having worked ourselves into a fever over the future of Western civilization, we will now begin enjoying our oatmeal again, with raisins, chopped apricots and honey from bees that grazed in meadows of clover. The beauty of engagement is disengagement. You simply put on your jacket and walk out the door and find good health. There is no fever that a 10-mile hike can't cure.

Twenty years ago, I gave up TV, and now I am going to take a sabbatical from the news and live in the immediate world. The neighbors are expecting a baby girl. My daughter is taking up the cello. My mother is game for more Scrabble. There is wood to be cut in the family woodlot. I've been a prisoner of the New York Times and have read enough for a while and want to get loose."

Thanks to Leslee for this recommend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Go wish Siona a happy happy birthday and an outstanding year to come.
She deserves it!

For you dear Siona, a recipe and pic of a gluten free pumpkin pie.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Quickly improvised dessert for my women's group dinner/discussion on Sufism...
Combine 3-4 TB honey in a small microwavable dish with 2-3TB orange blossom water. Heat for 30 seconds and stir.
Scoop vanilla bean ice cream into 4 dishes, and top with a sprinkle of finely grated fresh orange zest. (I LOVE my zester. Its right up there with my parmesan grater.) Pour a small quantity of the honey-orange blossom syrup over the ice cream and top with 2 or 3 marcona almonds. Serve quickly.

Note to self: An hour of CSI Miami, and a half hour of evening news makes the daily arrival of many cars to the newly rented house across the street seem very menacing.
Really he's probably just having friends over for beers.
There were so many cars Friday night that they were parking 2 blocks away. Roaring in and out a bit faster than we are used to in my quiet cul de sac.
Maybe this isn't the type of guy to bring the welcoming plate of cookies to.
On the other hand, maybe it would be a good idea to look him in the eye and see what we are dealing with. Maybe bring them on a dinner plate so we can dust for fingerprints when he returns it *grin*

Speaking of dinner plates...I found several bowls and a set of cups and saucers on EBAY to replace some of my now extinct dinnerware pattern. They happened to be here in Portland, so I saved myself a bunch of shipping charges and drove over to pick them up. She threw in 4 more dinner plates and finally agreed to take a couple more dollars for them, the same plates I had been watching on EBAY were going for $6-8 each. I also got a nice Sting local crew tshirt from the concert I saw a couple of weeks ago for less than half what the regular t's went for at the show. It is a nicer shirt too! Yay EBAY!

And just a quick note of thanks to Dale over at mole, for providing the truly reassuring kind of hugs that are needed when one starts a lunch in tears over a work problem. I'm not sure it will get better, but I do know that it's not such a big thing, my kids are marvelous, my house is warm and I like it more each day, my friends are steadfast and caring, my health is good, and my dog, well, he's there to bark at
across the street.
Who needs David Caruso?

Now I have to go look up what TV show he was on before CSI. Some medical show?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

No really, I'm firmly headed to bed now.
But before I go, did you know that there are pictures of naked women doing skanky things when you do an image search on "gatorade"?
No really.

And I didn't even try....
Punk Mama
You're a punk rock mommy! DIY is probably your
motto, because you're a punk mama at heart.
Your kids are getting your independent spirit
and guts, and learning to solve problems
themselves. You love it when they show their
independence, even when it's breaking your

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

In keeping with my quirky content...
Check this out if you ever wondered what life was like "backstage" on tour with your favorite music artist.

Some of these contracts actually specify that the cheese plate must include gorgonzola and brie.

Whee ha.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

An engaging question in my email this week: "Which of the five senses do you think is most important? What's been one recent memorable experience you had with each of your senses?"

I was thinking that this particular community of bloggers is particularly in touch with their senses, and might enjoy the challenge to respond to this as well. I'd be glad to post any offerings you can make on this subject, (you can comment or email me) and in the meantime, here is the way I answered a question which I keep thinking of different answers for.

I'm inclined to buy into the somewhat "pop psychology" theory Gary Zukav speaks of in The Seat of the Soul. We humans tend to get caught up in the physical inputs from our environment and depend on our senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell to the extent that we discount or dismiss the other ways we "know" of things in our world. Zukav's term for the expanded ability to sense things that aren't measured physically by our five senses is to be multisensory, but I think a more familiar term for this might be intuition.

I've had occasion to consider the loss of some of my five senses: my children's father is losing his sight to a genetic disease, one of my best friends lost her sense of smell almost entirely for several years following a virus, and another one of my best friends has lost much of the feeling in one of his hands after an accident that damaged the nerves. I'm so sensory oriented, that the possibility that any of these could happen to me is something I can't really imagine dealing with. When my friend's sense of smell disappeared, so did her ability to taste a wide array of foods, and this would surely send me into a huge fit of depression. So far R's sight has degraded slowly, but the reality is that someday in the not distant future, mountain vistas will be lost to him. To lose the subtlety of the angle of light through the trees in fall, or the smile on a babies face, those things too seem devastating. My friend struggles with making his hand work with tools in the way he has in the past, but more worrisome, he is not immediately aware of the warning signals that his hand is again in danger, because sensations such as heat and cold don't transmit the way they should. The intonations in a person's voice express so much; and I am a bird watcher, relying on sound to locate and identify my quarry; and I love music very deeply... So I don't see how I could choose to give up one or another in a devil's trade, any loss seems intolerable. For now, (and maybe this is a form of avoidance) I think I'd rather share a memorable example of how vital the inner senses can be, the huge difference it made in my life.

Those of you who read my archaelogy of childhood entry on elck's site might remember that my mother had a rather odd pregnancy, after 10 years of trying to conceive a second child, it appeared hopeless, and when in fact she did become pregnant, many of the normal "clues" did not manifest and so the doctors thought the fast growing object in her uterus was a tumor and operated. My sister had a difficult time conceiving also. When my (then) husband and I decided to have kids, we settled for a long wait, assuming it could be difficult. Well it wasn't the least bit difficult getting pregnant, and for the first seven months I had a completely uneventful and pleasant pregnancy. Something odd happened during our pregnancy classes though... more odd because I have a notoriously strong stomach for medical stuff, and have been known to eat dinner while watching brain surgery on TV. The films about the delivery were pretty graphic, but that was fine. Then they discussed complications, and the way the doctors dealt with them, and when they talked about turning a baby in the uterus when a baby is breech (for you technical types, an ECV), I became physically ill and had to leave the class. But you know, at the time it just seemed like one of those mood things, maybe I hadn't eaten enough that day, I was fine once we got home, so we dismissed it.

Then as time progressed, it became apparent that my daughter was in a breech position past the point of when she should have dropped down, and then came the discussions about doing an ultrasound to take a look at things, and then about a month before her due date, the conversation about our options. The doctor said that turning the child in a first time pregnancy had somewhat smaller chances of success because the uterus is not as stretched out, but that there was very little reason he could see why we shouldn't give it a try in order to avoid the c-section, which has its own set of risks and a longer recovery. During this entire conversation, and in the reading I had done on my own, I noticed that my entire body seemed to stress and my mind reject the possibility. It honestly terrified me, which is awfully strange for a procedure that was not supposed to hurt and supposed to have very minor risks. My OB-Gyn asked me what I thought and I felt safe telling him this. His answer was "Then we won't do it. I trust a woman to know what's right for her body, and you seem to feel strongly this is not right." He went right into planning the c-section and moved on without any attempt at all to talk me into the ECV. I was so relieved.

Shortcut to the delivery room about a month later. This same woman who couldn't handle the idea of someone pressing on my stomach kept asking for the doctors to let me watch the whole operation. They weren't able to, but I was fully awake and intently listening to the clinks of the tools and the doctors walking me through each step, as they agreed to explain exactly what they were doing out loud for me. My doctor reaches in and I feel the tug as my daugher is delivered from my body, then she is brought over where I can see her face, but meanwhile, the doctors are talking excitedly and I know something is up. She is fine! They say, but I am apparently a pretty deformed gal and they want to videotape my insides now for a medical video. They appropriate the video camera from a somewhat skeptical new Dad, and start to lift out the uterus and fallopian tubes explaining to the future audience that they are looking at a "unicornuate uterus, with a rudimentary horn, and non functioning ovary on one side" which I guess means half my reproductive system is withered in laymen's terms, apparently only 1-2% of women present this way. If you look up this term on google, you see the words "rupture" show up rather often. So good naturedly in the middle of all this, the doc teases me that I can only get pregnant every other month, but at my first followup visit he tells me quite seriously that we are lucky that she fit in the room she had, and that turning her when we had considered it would certainly have ruptured the uterus and we might have lost her, not to mention messing me up pretty good. We talked about how strongly I had felt about not doing it, and he said that over the years, he has learned to always take the mother's intuition seriously, because even if its inexplicable from a scientific perspective, the mother tends to be right. He noted that what particularly clued him in to follow my lead, was that all along I had been totally rational about the pregnancy, treating the whole thing analytically and intellectually, until it came to this one thing, where I reacted totally irrationally based on my feelings rather than on the data we were looking at.

I've had some other really unexplicable experiences of the world that seemed to go beyond the traditional five senses, but to know that trusting my intuition in that moment possibly saved my daughter's life, that is the miracle of the thing Zukav is talking about, aligning our whole selves to listen, to let our soul's voice be heard.

Do you think you've perceived things that go beyond the physical sense of the world? Do you have a way of talking about how you perceived it? Is there any one of the traditional five senses that you find more important to you? Is there one moment that describes the significance?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Hooray! Laughing~Knees is back up!

Friday, October 15, 2004


Roosted in a wetland perch
More often occupied by the heron
Chestnut shoulders hunched forward, wings untucked
She spread the feather tips to warm in the morning sun
Each primary visible, a distinct sheaf of darkened chevrons
Extended outward, as if to parade her rank,
So I counted the stripes, sergeant class flyer,
Many thousands of rodent missions under her belt.

I thought of you and your camera today,
Wishing I could capture that detail on film, save it because
Once startled, she grabbed the sky with those ready wings,
A stripe of rust her parting wake
And my words, the only memory of that sight.

Better yet, go hear elck read it aloud.

Monday, October 11, 2004

At three I think she is more aware of
The connection between her hands and her mind
Pudgy fingers dance in the air
Playing her imagination like the piper of Hamelin
A carseat no restraint for the leaps of the story unfolding
To draw her distant from the boredom of the ride.

Awaiting the change of a stop light one car behind,
I watch her hands spinning the tale
In silence her spell catches me, a memory
My children's hands too become so small and expressive
Reaching out to pull me back with them
Towards the place where we all lose our youth.

(Illustration by Kate Greenaway)

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The raccoons were back last night
Twin stripes of curiosity
Squinting into the light of my room
They see me sharing
A bed with Seamus Heaney
Quelling fears of loneliness with lonely words
Turn and leave,
Our company unfit for their jolly mood.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I ran into some salmonella this weekend. The nausea resulting from seeing an old lover is so much more satisfying, you can rant against and blame someone who becomes the receptacle for the way you've made yourself sick, whereas there's just nothing worth raging against in a simple case of food poisoning, nor do you get any say over how long you will be miserable. Lime jello anyone? (lest anyone worry, I seem to be over both the salmonella and the heartbreak, this older poem just seemed relevant to the way I spent the weekend)


Pillowcase soaked
Green glow of the stereo
Refracted into glistening stars
By eyefulls of watery memories.
The dial's light makes my room yours again
Your closet, each shirt, in detail
The low pock marked ceiling,
Leaking whiffs of cigarettes and late night movie voices
From the lonely upstairs neighbor.
The hum of the fridge,
Your arm reaching over me
To turn off the bedside lamp.
I smell your day's skinkeep,
Feel the weight of your body release
Into the slow breaths of sleep
All of this so vivid
It makes me dizzy.
And I retch
And retch
Trying to forget what it was like
To feel happy
Sleeping in your bed
Wishing I could scrub cry vomit the memories bare
Bleach myself white, clean, empty of you

Monday, October 04, 2004

A few months ago we swapped beds between my children's rooms.
This was a pretty big undertaking as it required one 50 lb boy and one smallish adult female unscrewing and disassembling three beds completely, since the frames did not fit through the doorways, dragging mattresses and box springs back and forth, then reassembling the parts in a different configuration. We thought we did this for purely aesthetic reasons, in order to rearrange my daughter's room so the headboards on the beds would not extend above the window sill, but we found out tonight why we really did it.

As I mentioned over in elck's comments this evening, my son had a run in with the new (taller) headboard which resulted in a nice little egg raised on the back of his head. He threw himself backward, I guess I should say he was in a rage and at this moment had covered his head with the sheet and screamed at me "Don't READ! I'm just going to SLEEP" at which point, he apparently did not stop to think about the fact that he was too far up in the bed to land on his pillow when he slammed back. Owwww that hurts.

Anyhow, three icepacks and an ibuprofin later, my son is comfortable again and I go to tuck my daughter into bed, and she asks me to show her what he has done. I turned to her (shorter) headboard, and as I pointed to what he hit, we realized that if he'd been in the bed she was now sleeping in, he would have split his head right open on the corner of the top horizontal rail, rather than hitting the middle which is made vertical rounded spindles. It hurt a lot, but I'm pretty sure there's no lasting damage.

So. It really was worth it to have taken those beds apart.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

For Lekshe, whose requests I can never turn down... and this one in particular because it reminds me, for some odd reason, of the challenge faced by geologists gamely attempting to meet reporters needs for exactitude in the art of predicting the tempermental moods of our local fire goddess St. Helens. Or maybe because of this statement from a local resident after the 1980 eruption from our local news:
"Cupping her hands, 64-year-old Dee Stone, remembers how her own rose garden became perfect receptacles for the volcanic ash. "I had 10 or 15 bushes. The ash went right into the folds of the flower," she said."

The Unseen Hand

It's not for you to unfurl the buds.
Shake them, hit them--you have no power
To make them blossom.
You soil them with your touch.
Tearing the petals and scattering them in the dust.
No colors appear, no perfume--
Ah, it's not for you to do that!

He who can open a bud does it simply
One glance, and the sap must stir
One breath, and a flower flutters in the wind,
Colors flash out like longings of the heart,
And perfume betrays sweet secrets.
He who can open a bud does it simply.
---Rabindranath Tagore

For another view of buds unfolding, please visit Maria's evocative poem "Roses"

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