Monday, October 27, 2008

Chrysanthemum Festival

Yesterday was the second free day of the season at the Japanese Stroll Garden in the Nathaniel Greene park. The day was windy and a cool 40+ degrees but the sky was bright blue. Not at all like this photo taken on a different day.
I was invited to attend at the last garden club meeting. It was supposed to be the Chrysanthemum Festival. I believe that the original idea was to see a display of unusual mums grown for the occasion but it was my understanding that they did not grow too well this year. So in lieu of the original plan the organizers went to plan B and that did not fall short.
If you made a donation you got a free 10 inch potted mum to take home. In addition to the mums there were several artists with displays set up. There were potters with raku pots and base relief sculptures, a jewelry artist, a painter with paintings that were reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffe, landscape artists ( and even a face painter for the kids.
By far my favorite artist and the one I talked to the longest was a Bonsai gardener. She had an interesting display on approximately 30 Bonsai trees in various sizes. The tree I thought was the most unusual and beautiful was the miniature pomegranate tree. It was adorned with flaming orange red blossoms that turn to tiny bulging ornamental pomegranates. They were about an inch in circumference. The display was gorgeous.

One thing that was great about the day was that I noticed something about the stroll garden I had not noticed before. It seems to have a year round appeal. Even though it was in its fall glory there were enough trees and plants that don't lose their leaves, berries or blossoms and stay beautiful year round. I could see how that type of landscaping would work very well in Southern Missouri. It gave me a lot of ideas about things that would be nice for my own backyard.
One of my chief complaints (aside from the cold and grey days) about living here is that I feel like I am living in the sticks during the winter. It seemed to me that this would be an ideal garden and type of landscaping because enough of it would stay pretty year round and would help lessen that feeling. This is certainly something to ponder as we intend to landscape our backyard someday.
All I can say now is I can't wait for the free day in the spring.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

reading so i can write

For weeks I have been concentrating on writing a novel. It is loosely based on things that either happen to me or things that happened to friends and that I was somehow a part of. In the words of Woody Allen it is "thinly" based on my life. I have to crack up a little when I think about Kristi Ally yelling at Woody Allen in Deconstructing Harry (one of my all time favorite films) because he devulges too much personal information in his stories and his ex-wife is pissed because all their friends know who each of the characters is and the terrible things that they did behind each others backs. I am trying not to make my characters so thin that anyone will recognize who they are in my characters but that is proving a lot harder then just generally changing their appearance. There personalities seem to shine right on through. Fortunately, I am not in touch with several of these people any longer so it may never be a problem. Okay I am not saying that my story is going to be so great that it gets published or ends up a best seller but one can hope and dream, can't one?

I hid out yesterday. It was a rainy day and I felt like I need to unplug or hang up so to speak so that is what I did. I turned off my cell and the television and I finished Pride and Prejudice. I was lost in the world of the Bennets, Bingleys, Darcys, Collins etc. It was fantastic. I am also still reading Confederacy of Dunces and now also On Writing by Stephen King. The only problems is I really am longing for another Jane Austen. I finished my series on famous Romans and I need to get another for my car. I like to have a book for every situation.

I have an HP IPAQ that I read from for late at night because it does not disturb Steve and it is backlite so I have no need of a book light. But I have one of those too for a traditional book. I usually like to have a book in the car for the times I am driving or in the car waiting on someone. The IPAQ is really cool because you can download books off the internet and a lot of the classics are free. That is how I read Swiss Family Robinson, Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations. It has a fairly good dictionary ( I would love a more advanced but that costs the big bucks). What is neat is that you touch the word you are reading and the dictionary opens right to the word, when you are finished touch the small done on the bottom of the screen and back to your story. It also dogears your place and opens right to it when you come back to it. It is light weight and very easy for me. I don't get a headache when I read from it and it has a ton of memory so it holds a lot. It is small about 6" by 3.5" and the screen is about 3x5. Really it is a tiny little PC because it has word, excel, internet explorer, outlook, email (but I don't use it on this because I get too much junk) and it does everything in a very compact little unit. I mainly use it for reading and playing games.

Monday, October 13, 2008

keeping secrets

Sometimes I get a little mad because I think there is too much emphasis on other people's feelings and not enough on straight talk and honesty. I can appreciate not wanting to tell someone something because they don't want to hurt feelings but sometimes not telling them is worse. In most situations it would be better to know certain information than be left with feelings that may or may not be the truth because there was not room enough for honesty and integrity. I would appreciate the information rather than being left with feelings that may or may not be true.
Then there are others who want to keep everything secret but they themselves don't keep the secret. If you really require secrecy in your life then tell no one. I mean no one. If you want to share the information with a select few then it is no longer a secret and you will have to accept that at some point the people you are attempting to keep secrets from often find out any way.
When you who prefaced your secret with, "I am going to tell you something but you have to swear not to tell this person or that person." Well that is silly and should be left on the junior high play ground. If you are living your life with that much secrecy required maybe you should look at how you are living. Be honest with yourself and with others and you won't need all that BS.

For the record I have decided that if you do not want your secret told and you make that statement then tell your secret you are either not serious or you are stupid because you just told a fallible human your secret. If you tell me that you have to tell me but preface that I cannot tell anyone else, well do me a favor and don't tell me. I don't have the energy or patience to play that game.
I look at it this way. If you tell me something that are you feelings and you just need an ear I am certainly smart enough to keep that to myself and out of respect for you and others around me, I will do my very best to keep your feelings to myself.

If you tell me something that you are telling everyone anyway then you have to go and interrogate everyone after the people who you don't want to know get in the know. Well like I stated I don't have the time or the patience for that and I will be offended if you interrogate me. I am generally a smart person occasionally I slip up I am after all human but for the most part I try really hard to hear people and respect them and with that said tell me or don't either way is okay by me but don't ask me to play your game.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

attracting butterflies

Today I attended a lecture about butterflies. It was hosted by the Cherry Court Garden Club. It was the most interesting lecture not just because of the topic but because the speaker was extremely entertaining. Dr. Mario Canlas is a retired neurosurgeon who uses some of his time gardening orchids in a green house. His property apparently attracts butterflies and he and his wife have taken great measures to welcome these fascinating creatures into their lives.

What makes this doctor so amusing? Aside from his obvious passion. He has photo-documented, researched and eloquently explains the mating habits, the life cycle and their extraordinary method of becoming the royal creatures that they are.

He talks to his flies and they talk back. They lead him on a journey through his property and they show him the tiniest things that his observant eye has taken the time to catch on film. He lovingly referred to one of his flies as his girlfriend.

His little idiosyncrasies make him so amusing. He is a tall, handsome, older, Filipino gentleman with a bit of an accent who is somewhat challenged by computer technology. His passion to share with us and educate us never once was over shadowed by the occasional slip of a four letter word that would pass his lips when his software was not performing the way it was intended. Much to some of the mature ladies who at first seemed a little taken back then social moray demanded that one must simply overlook what he was actually saying.

His frustration simply took a backseat to his passion. He did however, understand on one level that it must be operator error but software shouldn't require an advanced degree to operated and this program was baffling. It was painful for him but delightful for his audience as we did not care. The education he provided us was like a fine gem.

We got to see the magic that he captured but in smaller images with the software's editing mode visible on the projection screen.

I truly wanted to help him but I had no idea from looking at it how it even worked. If it would have been a PowerPoint presentation I might have been able to offer some assistance.

I had to laugh at the very end when one of the members of the hosting garden club made a statement, "I can't wait to read the minutes at our next meeting."
None the less it was comical yet serious, very educational and utterly delightful. I learned how to determine the sex of a monarch butterfly. I saw the entire process from his identifying the attraction pheromone on the male, mating, egg laying, larvae, chrysalis, on to glorious butterfly.

The monarch above in this series of photos I took a few years back is a female. Until this day I would not have been able to identify the sex.

I am not sure what this butterfly is but I feel certain that Dr. Canlas would know. I hope I get the opportunity to hear him speak again. He was fabulous.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

living within the limits

At times I really get disgusted with muscular dystrophy. Most days I do okay with it but the number one thing I absolutely hate about it is having to live without spontaneity. Back in the day (Before MD) I was a free spirit and I could go and do whatever I felt like doing. If I wanted to go walk on the beach, I went. In fact, without going into too much detail I did most things on the spur of the moment. I miss that.
Right now at this very minute if I could do anything without limits I would pack a bag, get in my car and drive away. I would pull a Forrest Gump. I would drive until I wanted to go back home and that might take years. I would go see everything I ever wanted to see but for whatever reason did not see it.

I remember driving to June Lake and I wanted to see Death Valley but I didn't. I would go see it. One time I wanted to see Hearst Castle. I drove right by it but did not stop. I would go see that too. I lived in Southern California for most of my life and did not make it to half the places I always wanted to see. I also never traveled to Europe, Asia or South America. I have never been to an Island. At 20 I had the opportunity to go sailing to Catalina on a private yacht with an unhappily married handsome 40 something man and I couldn't do it because he was married. If I was 20 I would do it now and I wouldn't even feel bad about it. Of course all I would do is go sailing as long as he was married to someone else and of course I wasn't yet married.

I had many opportunities as a young woman to live free and some I did but looking back most I didn't. I feel sad about that. I guess you are not suppose to regret your decisions. The ones you make when you are 18 or 19 or 20 but now at 41, I sometimes fantasize about what my life might have been like if I made opposite decisions. Sometimes I wonder what my life might have been if I was born to different parents. Now I realize more than ever that it is because of who my parents are as people that I made the decisions that I did.
All very interesting thoughts that do nothing at all except make me write my novel and answer those very questions in the lives of my characters.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Writing is hard work. Four small words that speak the truth. I am continuing to write and reading is such a large part of writing that I am doing a lot of that too.

I am reading a great book recommended to me by Valerie titled A Confederacy of Dunces. It was written in the 60s by John Kennedy Toole. Toole committed suicide before it was published and won a Pulitzer Prize. It was his mother that peddled his book and went to necessary lengths to get it published. In 1976 she contact Walker Percy a Loyola Prof and asked him to read it. He asked her why she wanted it published she simply stated "because it is a great novel". It is rich with character description and when reading it you can actually see the characters and the places they are. I have only encountered that feeling at this level a few other times in books.

I obviously intellectually get the characters and scenes in what I read but to get that level of visual while reading a book, that I savor. I will read it slower than usual because I don't want to miss a beat. I will look up every single solitary word that I am not 100% sure about. Why do I go to great pains for a novel? Simple, I don't want it to end. It starts out "A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head." From there it just gets better.