I don’t know how many times I read Catcher in the Rye when I was younger. Or how many four leaf clovers I’ve found. But the answer to both would be “a lot.”

I remember what I wore to school on the first day of 4th grade (white tube socks with red stripes, cut off baby blue Levis cords shorts, a red and white striped t-shirt, and blue converse low-top look-alikes) and I remember when I did the hula for Jim Bonifay in the talent show. I can’t recall what my homeroom teacher’s name was in junior high or why I ever quit hanging out with Ann. But I do remember the first time I smoked pot and learning how to dive from a stranger at the apartment complex pool.

I can’t remember if it was the boy in the hospital or the boy on the train who kissed me first. But I remember both those kisses.

I never could understand why boys could fool around with as many girls as they wanted and maintain a cool and stellar reputation, but if girls acted the same, they were slutty whores. I know that I didn’t give a rats ass what anybody thought.

There are times I wish I could be like that guy who was preaching Jesus in the McDonald’s when I was on my way to work. He was preaching past me, to the couple on my other side. They were being polite but clearly didn’t want to hear what he had to say. And neither did I, so I told him to shut the hell up. Then he got mad and started fussing at me, but I didn’t give a damn. Nobody wants to be bombarded by that evangelical bullshit. But that guy – that guy believed so fervently that he was chosen, that he was right, he never even considered anyone else in the room. Until me, anyway. Then he forgot his prophecy of love and forgiveness and damned me straight to Hell. How empowering it must be to have that kind of faith in a metaphor.

I’ve always been keenly aware of imbalance and unfairness. Sometimes this drives me to argue, sometimes this drives me to a dark corner of my room. Sometimes, I pour myself a drink. I don’t suffer fools gladly. And I know there’s no “get out of jail free” card.


amaros

Amaro. Perfect for those bittersweet moments in life.

Listen

 

lead kindly light

I began on the crisis/suicide prevention line as a volunteer but, as a result of a profound epiphany, my dedication soon turned into a full-time paying job. I managed the crisis line, training volunteers in active listening and ensuring that boundaries were kept in place. The volunteers and I spent countless hours on the phone, at all times of day and night, listening to strangers recount their days and share their grief, sadness, and desperation. We listened, heard their stories, and validated their struggles. Not every caller was suicidal. In fact, most of them were not. But for those that were, we reflected the glimmer of hope they had exposed by reaching out, and did our best to get them through the abyss. For the many more callers who were not ready for finality but felt lost in the dark, we provided enough reflection so they could find their way through to another day.

My days of crisis work slowed as my family grew. As my days became less entwined with human frailty, I developed other passions. I had perfected my pie dough many years prior, and found myself with more time to experiment with recipes and flavors. I had always wanted to learn to quilt but didn’t even know how to sew. After the birth of my first son, my husband gifted me a sewing machine, I took a class, and have been creating and designing quilts ever since. I’ve learned how to forge steel, weave linen, create shrubs, sell vintage wares, and have thorough knowledge of a whole catalog of acronyms related to digital marketing. And plans for learning much much more. Some skills and knowledge become a part of who I am, others slip away.

pie

The acts of learning and labor I connect with the most are those that can, for even just a brief moment, provide some sort of comfort to another. Homemade pie for women in a domestic violence shelter providing a welcome moment of respite; quilts donated to a worthy cause or given to a newborn child of a friend; even cocktails shared with a neighbor, forgetting our troubles for an hour or two, provide benefit to us both.

loveglasses

Comfort comes in all forms. A slice of pie or a cocktail, a handmade quilt, or an anonymous listener on the end of the phone – all can provide that same profound epiphany I experienced many years ago. The realization that what we all crave, what is ultimately the best thing we can do for one another, is often the simplest to provide. Just a bit of light in the darkness, a bit of warmth in the cold.*

*inspired by Father John Misty

 

Collecting

I’m attracted to the object but drawn to the hunt. The search for treasure. The quest to discover the forgotten or see the unseen. Alas, I also find myself saddled with a great affection for, and tendency to personify, inanimate objects. As in, I might be wandering an antique or thrift store and come upon a small wooden goat, just sitting on the shelf, all alone. And the next thing you know, I have great empathy for the loneliness of said goat and I purchase it with my quarter and take it home and place him in a spot of prominence in my house, where he is adored daily and, I come to believe, is much happier.

goat

I collect a lot of handmade items. Embroidered textiles, quilts, table linens, pottery, and quirky handmade art, purchased from flea markets and thrift stores. A lot of my reasoning for procuring these items is not based on “sound” mind, but more from “feeling.” I find myself considering the maker and the time and care they took to create the item. I consider the delicate stitches and am struck by the patience they required. Or I notice the hurried and uneven stitches, demonstrating a drive for completion versus a desire of perfection; both create beauty in the end. I think about the individual making the item and wonder why there are no loved ones holding on to this bit of history, no family to admire this connection to their past. This makes me thoughtful and a bit sad, often driving me into my own almost-empty pocket to purchase the object and call it my own.

quilt

My consideration of the object is equal to my consideration for the creator. I honor those who came before me, whomever they were or still are. The residual energy that was once in their hands now lies in my own, evidenced by their creation being recognized, appreciated, and welcomed. If I am able to purchase the item or am only able to honor their energy for a fleeting moment, I am grateful to fill this role.

windups_blog

I have been an avid collector of one thing or another for most of my life. Yet, with every filled space there must be an equal empty space. Somewhere. There must be balance. Even I reach limits with my madness, particularly with items that are not handmade and/or take up a lot of visual space. I’m a skilled purger of “stuff.” The Fiestaware dishes I had amassed became a monkey on my back and I rid myself of all of them. I’ve downsized my collection of wind-up toys (shown above, prior to downsizing) to only ones holding sentimental value. And I don’t seek out Peter Max items anymore, although I have yet to be convinced to rid myself of what I own. Oh, and that goat ^^up there^^? Come to find out, he was created by a Swedish designer by the name of Gunnar Ander. I sold him to a collector. He was actually kind of hard to let go, but I knew he would be properly admired, so we parted ways.

bourbons

All in all,  I’m much more discerning these days, only picking up items I simply can’t resist, for one reason or another. My book collection grows and grows, shrinks a little, and then returns again. That’s about the only thing I collect wherein I find I have too much and then, suddenly, not enough. Well. Books and booze. Liquor takes me in an opposite direction on the creation timeline, though. Instead of honoring the past while appreciating an object made long ago, I look towards the future and consider all the possibilities, all the concoctions I could create. Because, really, there’s not much more satisfying than an evening spent browsing through books on your own living room floor, with a freshly made cocktail in your hand.

Or maybe that’s just me.

 

 

Sol

She’s so hot.

fireball

A fireball, waiting to warm your belly.

Her radiant madness setting your heart on fire.

Stand too near, too long, and her aura burns right through you.

beachsun

She gives all she has to give, tirelessly.

She is there for you, almost every day.

Yet…she can be elusive.

suninthewoods

Some avoid her strength, intimidated by her confidence, and seek the darkness of shadows.

anotherbeachsun

I choose to bask in her warmth whenever she lets me, wherever I might be.

I find her irresistible.

skyfire

She has the power to destroy us all.

And she will. One day.


I love the Sun. Year after year, I eagerly await the time to slip out of the every day, slip out of the chores of adulthood, slip out of any preconceived notion of what I should or should not be doing. I eagerly await the time I can slip out and slip into the sun.

suninmyface


My first love is whiskey, yet I find myself drinking my share of gin as the days get longer and hotter. Occasionally, I find the perfect shrub to compliment bourbon and I get a thrill of drinking my cherished amber elixir with a fresh fruity shrub.

apricot

Here we have:

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1.5 oz. of apricot shrub
  • 3-4 dashes of Smoke & Salt Crude Bitters

Add 2 cubes of ice, topped off with club soda. Lucious.

Truth

You know the type. They’re rather quiet upon first meeting. You may even think them shy or rude. You might have a sense of the two-ton locker of life’s many lessons they carry upon their shoulders, and you do your best to avoid them. They walk around, brow furrowed, with an ever so slight rise to the corner of their mouth…a sneer or the beginning of a smile, but the cause will remain a secret, never shared. Not with a friend, a lover, a priest, or even you. Some secrets are only meant for one.

They have a copious vocabulary from which to choose to explain their myriad of ricocheting thoughts, but they rarely find a worthy audience. When they do finally speak, their unminced words fly swiftly and pierce the heart of their target. The ignorant or unprepared retreat to dark corners and lick their wounds while the occasional few, those of us with burdens and secrets all our own, may turn to face the archer and his bow and think, “YES. Someone else is paying attention.”


A guy I once found attractive asked me what I wanted out of life. He seemed rather disdainful of my life choices and was clearly trying to decide if I were worth pursuing. I thought about his question for a moment – a moment in which I weighed all the possibilities of a career, family, possessions, money – and quickly answered: “Truth.” The look of disapproval on his face was quite evident. I smiled at the revelation and walked away, knowing our relationship had ended before it had even begun. It was at that moment I realized: Not everyone pays attention.

The pointed comment or dismissive glance contain more truth than many are prepared for and are often overlooked. The arrow straight to the heart tends to misguide the best of intentions. And the shot of whiskey is a secret unto itself. Its truth can be shared, but only with you and you alone. All you need do is pay attention.

sip

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday on the Porch

I had just gotten off the train from Baltimore. I had spent the last three days discussing and sharing information on suicide, the philosophy of it, the psychology behind it, the social and cultural aspects of it. And while all of that was fascinating and enlightening in and of itself, the point is that I had just gotten off the train and was waiting at the old Amtrak station for my then-husband to pick me up. As I sat there on the curb, with the sun lowering in the evening sky, I experienced a moment that I never forgot. A moment I relive with each remembering. A moment which resonated with the thought: “This place. I KNOW this place.”

The trees across the street, the sounds of downtown in the distance, the smell of the dirt, the heat coming off the asphalt. I knew it. It was part of me. I felt as if I could get lost in the soil at my feet, that if I were to taste it I would be tasting a morsel of who I was. It was so visceral, the sensation that “I” was part of that moment, that place.

For many years, I had assumed “that place” was Raleigh, as I had lived there for most of my life and felt deeply attached to my hometown. Yet – and perhaps this is something we all come to know eventually – I now realize the place I connected with doesn’t have as much to do with where I was/am geographically as it does to where I AM. I could be walking on a dirt road in Chatham County, riding in a car in Sicily, sitting in an airport in Iceland, drinking and discussing dreams in a bar in Raleigh, or sitting on the porch with my dog. Come to find out, I felt the sense of connection just as profoundly in every one of these moments as I did at the train station. I’ve simply become more adept at paying attention, more attuned to the vibrations, the connections, and to the morsels of who and what I am.

Energy. Fire. Water.
Stardust, baby.

stardust


Today was a day spent on the porch, cleaning, purging, readying for a season of settin’ and sippin’. Which, of course, brings the raspberry shrub that’s been “resting” in my fridge since Thursday to mind. I know the flavors will have mingled together that much more over the next few days, but I’ve never been known for patience. Hence, we have a perfectly lovely Spring libation:

gin porch sipper

Gin Porch Sipper

  • 1.5-2 oz of gin (you could also easily make this with vodka or even tequila)
  • 1.5 oz of raspberry shrub
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • 3 ice cubes, topped with club soda

I will go into details on making shrubs soon, but in the meantime, for those of you who are unaware, a “shrub” is a mixture of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Delicious!!!!