Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The balance of beauty and chaos

On Wednesday, September 24th, we'll be heading into a New Moon phase.  It'll be in Libra:

What fascinates me most about this article by Molly Hall is the idea of beauty vs. chaos.  It really struck me, the following quote by Vangelis, of all people: "Beauty is harmony which comes from chaos. But we invest in chaos. And why do we invest in chaos, because chaos is more profitable than peace. That's why."

Think about that for a moment. We invest in chaos.  Now, what probably comes to mind first is the idea of countries investing in war.  At least that's what came up for me.  War is profitable, creates bumps in the economy for the better.  But I don't think I need to go into the pain and negativity that war also brings.

But besides war, we have a tendency to invest energy and focus on the negativity in our lives.  It hits us viscerally and stays with us.  For a moment: think about the last time you were cut off in traffic, or verbally slighted, or were the recipient of a dirty look.  It hit deep.  We recall it easily. It's more "profitable" for our psyches sometimes because it feeds our need for drama, which can be a cheap, tawdry alternative to something deeper and more profound.

Now, try to quickly recall a moment, very recently, where you received something beautiful and positive.  If you're like me, it might take a tad more time to really recall it, to feel it, to let it reverberate in you.  And, frankly, that's a shame. 

How can we learn to allow beauty to hit us viscerally in a way we're then able to recall more easily?  One way is to train ourselves to become more present in those quiet moments when beauty touches our souls.  The next time someone compliments you, or you hold the hand of a loved one, or hear a glorious symphony, sit still and allow yourself to feel the moment deeply.  Where does it "settle" in your body?  That beauty deserves to be held deep inside, to feed our cores.

Another trick to try is a minute or so each night devoted to recalling those small, quiet beautiful moments.  It doesn't take long at all to make it a habit, to recall three things you are truly grateful for tht happened earlier in the day.  It can become a part of your evening habits.

Now, as for the upcoming New Moon: I'm planning a New Moon ritual for my husband and myself.  I'm still working on the details, but I'll share them with you as the date gets closer.  Until then, ask yourself, "What chaos am I willing to transmute into beauty?" What comes to mind first for me is the cacophony that is my office.  I am willing, focused and entirely able to turn that apple carving face of a space into a beautiful, blushing Pink Lady apple of a room.

Current office condition

Pink Lady apples packed in
Future office condition

Thursday, September 11, 2014

For today ...

Really, there isn't much more to add to this post.  The video says it all.

John Lennon - Imagine 320 kbps

Have a peaceful day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Denver Modernism: my own personal Heaven ...

Friends, it's been a while since I last blogged.  An embarrassingly long while.  But, rest assured, I have been quite the busy bewitched one.  And I've had a lot going on internally, too.  All good.

But I'll get to all of that in due time.  For now, let's step back in time to August 23 and take a stroll through the Denver Modernism Show, or I like to call it, "Mid-Mod Heaven in the Rockies"

We'll start with my first lecture of the day, headed by Denver real estate Brent Jones.  As I entered the lecture area, I felt like I was going to Oz; I was filled with wonder and expectancy and was NOT disappointed.  Brent presented a slide show of Denver's grooviest homes, most of which he had sold, as that's his specialty.

What amazed and delighted me in equal measure was that absolutely everything Brent spoke to us about trends in Mid-Century homes I knew.  Seriously, if I would contemplate a second career, it would definitely either be Mid-Mod real estate or (at the very least) house staging for Mid-Mods, complete with energy cleansing.  With sage and crystals - and Retsin!

Brent shared with us the story of finding his own dream home, a house he dubbed "the whore house" because, quite sadly, someone had spray-painted the word "whore" across the brick fireplace (he admitted he learned a crack house).  The home was found in a very dodgy neighborhood which, has since, changed for the better.  Then Brent elicited gasps and, I think, at least one person fell out of their chair, when he mentioned that he purchased the home for under $100,000. I think I peed, just a little.  Hooray, Brent, for rescuing and rehabbing the house.  And making me pee just a little.

After the real estate lecture (with me taking my own mental notes about which homes would work best for Ben and me after I win the Powerball jackpot), it was off to the vendors to "ooh" and "ah".  Take a look at this great piece of retro gaming at its finest.

Ben had to remind me, in his Big Adult Voice, that not only did we not have any more room for glassware, but that we'd have to ship it home.  So a photo sufficed (while I wept inwardly).

It's a 70s hoolaboola! Dig that shell lamp and Happy Face mug!

Beautiful sheet sets at the same vendor (where I purchased a sunny yellow fondue pot and forks with multi-colored tips.  And an orange and white 3/4 length sleeve jacket that look like vomit on the hanger, but something told me to try it on; it's pretty darned awesome and a one-of-a-kind find.

Rethought guitar, vintage patterns, Lite-Brite.  You DO remember the commercial, right?:

                                  Some furniture I would like to own.  Please and thank you.

Western, Cowboy-Cowgirl, Giddy-Up furnishings for your enclosed back porch in your Mid-Mod home which I will own and then you can come over for franks and beans.

Ah, yes, there was a retro fashion show, focusing on Mod clothing.  Oh, how envious Carol Brady would be.

Here's Ben, enraptured by the Charlie Weaver bartender toy.  Little does he know that I'm looking for one for him for Christmas ...

Hats.  A bevy of dramatic toppers.  There's something I really like about the grouping of heads here.
Let me add here that I also attended lectures about psychedelic art and music, and a really informative lecture about tiki drinks, held in the event's tiki bar, which served some potent potables.

No Mid-Century Mystic worth her weight in ectoplasm would deign to ignore the pull of the Predicta "ouija board" game.  Truly would've picked it up, but I'm very particular of the kinds of vibes I get from used divinatory items.  And I was a little wary of this one.  But, oh, the splendor!

Finally, the event poster by the talented and completely sweet and wonderful-to-chat-with Lindsey Kuhn

"What's that penguin doin' on top of  your Velveeta?"  "Standin'!"

After the show, we took a pilgrimage out to Arapahoe Acres, one of Denver's premiere and most sought-after Mid-Century neighborhoods. I cried copious tears and came close to being arrested because it's not cool to go up to people's homes and ask if you can come in.

Until next time, Denver Modernism.  Meanwhile, I believe visions of this particular dress shall fill my dreams ...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Things come in threes ...

My  Mama and Little Me

Driving home from a wonderful voice-over gig today, I kept myself company by playing a CD that my hubby compiled: a collection of rare and exquisite music by the Sherman Brothers.  In case you don't recall, they were the guys who were instrumental (pun intended, I guess) in writing the songs for your childhood.  Well, at least if your childhood was like mine, and was filled-to-brimming with Disney.  Animated features like "The Jungle Book", "Winnie the Pooh", and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" provided me the soundtrack to my youth.

And then there's "Mary Poppins", which goes beyond soundtrack to heartbeat.

So, I exited the expressway and at that moment, the track played that had an interview with the Shermans about their favorite song from "Poppins", "Feed the Birds".  It was also Walt Disney's favorite song of theirs. And, apparently, it was also the song that "Mary Poppins" book writer P.L. Travers actually enjoyed (she had issues with much of the other music in the film - and the film itself.  And let's not even mention those tap dancing penguins, which she eschewed).

Yes, I exited the expressway, the song played, Travers hummed along, I burst into tears.  Not just was this song Walt's and Pamela's favorite: it was my Mom's.

I turned onto the main street from the expressway and looked to my right, where I usually see the signage for CSA Insurance (Czechoslovak Society of America, that is), the insurance company my Mom and Grandma did business with.  I also looked for the sign for the Czech heritage museum.  Both were gone.

Tears from the song mingled with a fresh cascade of "You've gotta be kidding me" tears, as I turned onto the side street to check out what was going on in the structure that used to house both businesses.  It was pretty much gutted.  Ladders and paint cans and people busily turning the building into Something Other Than.

And then both sets of tears mingled with yet another: the flow of tears that came upon realizing that my Mom will have been gone from me thirteen years tomorrow.

The song.  The signage and gutted building.  The anniversary of my Mom's death.

Do loved ones who've passed on show up more often at the anniversaries of their passing?  My hubby asked me this and, although I'm a professed student of the esoteric, I came up empty.  I'm not sure.  But it might make sense, especially if they're needing to tell us something.

Mom shows up in threes.  Always.  And this time, with the addition of the sad news about the insurance company and museum, the museum that was an ode to what I must now refer to as the dying Czech heritage in this area, I really am left scratching my head, trying to figure out what Mom is attempting to tell me.

I had a tough day yesterday, dealing with a cold/flu thingy, as well as upsetting news about schedules and people I needed to rectify.  I was at an emotional and physical and spiritual low.  Was the trilogy of messages a little nod from my Mom, just telling me she's here for me?  I'm not really sure.  But it was a one, two, three - boom!

But, like in the photo at the very top of this blog post, maybe Mom's just holding me close and telling me that everything, really everything, is going to be alright.

Love and miss you, Mom.  I'll keep listening for more details ...

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Four Elements of The Beatles

obit-harrison.jpg (635×587)

Yesterday, February 9, 2014, marked the 50th anniversary of when the Beatles changed the world, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show and tipping the collective consciousness on its collective ear.  Since then, many books, blogs, articles and TV documentaries have delved deeply into just why this event impacted us so strongly.  Yes, America was in a dark depression after the assassination of President Kennedy, it needed a happiness jolt - and it got one.  But it spurred me to thinking metaphysically about the topic, which is one of my proclivities.  And that usually leads me to thinking of the tarot, too.  And I have a bit of a theory I'd like to share.

The Beatles represent the Four Elements, earth, air, fire and water.  Since we live amongst those elements every day, they are familiar to us and we respond to them viscerally; they're literally a part of us all.  So when four scrappy lads from Liverpool came on over to the U.S. with their jangly guitars and cheery dispositions, we all subconsciously latched onto them not only because of their passionate personas, but because of their representations of the parts of our selves, the emotions, the groundedness, the intellectual and spiritual aspects. Now, the elements can mean different things to different people and any rabid Beatle fan could wax poetic about which element represents which Beatle.  One could even argue that any given Beatle changed his elemental leaning as the band grew in popularity and inventiveness.  And, as I said, everyone has bits of each element.  Here are my elemental assignments for each Mop Top:

John Lennon: Air  I dare you to argue this one.  The intellectual and brash Beatle, prone to flights of fancy and deep discourses on how his brain worked.  Swords in tarot slice through the mental clouds, or tear through with razor-sharp wit. And, this doesn't apply to all the other Beatles, but Lennon was a Libra, an Air sign, and had an Aquarian (Air sign) Moon (and Aquarians are known for being the peaceniks and the people who battle against social injustice, just as John had).  So he was destined to be the visionary, the dreamer, the wordsmith, the sardonic analytic.  The brain of the band.  

Paul McCartney: Water In the tarot, Cups (or quite often, Hearts) represent the water element.  When I think of Paul McCartney's contribution to the Beatles legacy, two things come to mind: love songs and heart-centeredness. McCartney was the heart of the Fab Four.  So many of his songs, whether they be "Michelle", "Martha, My Dear", "Yesterday", "For No One" - speak of love lived, lost, unrequited, and longed-for.  And, long after the Beatles had broken up for all intents and purposes, he threw himself in with deep emotion to try to keep them together.  Just watch "Hey Jude".  You'll see what I mean.  

George Harrison: Fire  The suit of Wands corresponds with Fire.  It also speaks of spiritual energy, of chi, of swirling chakras and life force.  One might argue that George would be the heart of the band, but for me, he's the soul, the spirit.  His interest in Indian mysticism and its effect on the direction of the bands music is quiet telling.  Songs with titles like "Within You and Without You" and "The Inner Light" speak of spiritual journey and soul growth.  Lyrically and musically, they never fail to inspire me to flow along with them, seeing what new insights might be gained.  I feel transported to Rishikesh and I'm sitting at the Maharishi's feet, incense wafting near by.

Ringo Starr: Earth  Baked beans.  Legend has it that when the Beatles went to India to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ringo brought along suitcases filled with cans of baked beans, because of his delicate digestive system.  Take that image and add drums, and you've got Ringo.  I'm being silly, really;  ofcourse there's a lot more to this legendary drummer than that.  But Ringo always struck me as the more earthy, grounded soul, the Beatle manifestation of pentacles in the tarot: earth and physical solidity (he got his nickname because of the rings he wore - a close enough representation of the pentacles in the tarot for me!).  He provided the pulse of the band, kept the body of the band pulsating and alive.  His gentle humor and solid demeanor seemed to anchor the band; while other members experimented musically and psychedelically, Richard Starkey remained content providing that solid beat.

There you have it.  I would love to hear your Fab Four elemental feedback!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Charlie Brown Christmas Dance - a little discussion on those moves ...

First of all, a Grievous Festivus to one and all!  Frankly, I really don't have much to be grievous about this year (thankfully!), but I will wish the obligatory warm wishes for a jolly time around the Festivus Pole - and here's hoping no muscles will be pulled during the Feats of Strength (or during the Airing of Grievances, either!).

Today though, I will be blogging about the above photo: the iconic dance scene in the beloved holiday special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

Maybe it's the joyousness in the faces, the way the Peanuts kids throw their whole selves in to the dances, but this portion of the show never fails to delight.  We can all relate to being put in a position where you have to follow rules you'd rather not have to (of the pageant director, in this instance), and certainly we've all started tapping our feet, or spontaneously started jumping and jiving when we hear a jazzy tune that pulls at our senses.  That's what happens with these little guys.  The music starts, and they just drop what they're doing, ignore the powers that be, and dive right in, mash potatoeing and frugging until Charlie Brown stops them with the honk of his thrown-down director's megaphone (why it honks remains a mystery ...).

Recently, a flash mob in New York perfectly captured the joyous irreverence of this wonderful Mic-Century TV classic moment:  Kudos to these intrepid performers, who pulled it off masterfully.  And extra special kudos to whoever is dressed as Snoopy, for giving me this year's Special Christmas Smile.

Many mysteries revolve around this groovy "Peanuts a'Go-Go":  For instance, my hubby and I pride ourselves on having mastered all the specific moves, having almost become experts on them.  Ben's favorite is Linus's, but what exactly IS he doing? Is he mashing potatoes?  Is that THE "mashed potato"?  Sally emulates the potato-mashing moves.  Then there's the Twins, doing The Pony, who we never see again in any other Peanuts special to memory.  Who are they?  Why are they there?  Where'd they go?  It's almost scary, like they're the twins from "The Shining" a'la Schultz ("Come dance with us, Charlie ..."). 

And don't get me started about the kid with the spiky hair.  Not only is he the most mysterious Peanut, but his particular moves don't seem to reference any other known dance, although the shoulder shrugs and knock knees are slightly reminiscent of the work of Bob Fosse.  And that's pretty spectacular.  Maybe he was there as a ringer, some professional Broadway dancing kid who wandered into the auditorium and just joined in for that particular afternoon?  The mind boggles.

But there's more: Violet seems to be confused by her dance.  We certainly are and have yet to identify it (but her iconoclastic moves make her my favorite).  Shermie, while he isn't busy being a shepherd, gets to Zombie on down (good for him!  Take that Lucy! Shermie breaks the shepherd mold!).  Frieda's dance also defies description.  It's almost like she's saying, "I have naturally-curly hair and that makes me happy and I gladly give all my happiness to youHappy, happy, happy!".

Really though, what dance moves are done here don't matter.  It's all about the joy.  That joy made Ben and I decide to have our wedding party dance it at our wedding reception.  Problem was, the DJ broke the CD as he was putting it into the player. Quick planning on my part (or as we life coaches call it, "dancing in the moment") had us all switch to "Gettin' Jiggy Wid It" at the last minute.  Which was fine.  But it didn't have that magic that Charles Schultz gave us back in 1966.

A blessed, joyous, fun-filled Christmas to one and all.  And if the hubbub of the season gets the best of you, just click on the link below and dance away ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Beagles I have known and loved ...

Upon entering the veterinary clinic this morning for Ivy's annual check-up, the feeling that all was not well was palpable.  I've become more and more attuned to energy in the last year or so, and a heaviness hung in the air, as I had little Ivy step onto the scale (she's gone up one pound from last year, but she's still got her "v', meaning she tapers from her chest to her hips) and then reported the findings to the vet tech.  A woman dressed for work, except for the shower slippers she wore (due to obviously bringing in some sort of emergency), paced in front of the desk.

"Will she be okay?", she shakily asked the nurse.

"All I know is that the doctor is performing CPR right now."

"But is she gone?  What's going on?"

The tech assured her everything was being done that could be done.

Then Ivy and I were whisked off into Examination Room 2 (Whisk is not an applicable term for Ivy at the vet; it's more of a scrape.  I'm whisked off and Ivy is then dragged  in while she puts up a fight, digging her little heels into anything that has some sort of traction, which really isn't to be found on the slick linoleum floors of a pet hospital).

What had completely transpired to cause the emergency wasn't clear to me, but what was clear was that this was a sad, sad Tuesday.  The woman in the flip-flops could now be heard inside the vet's office.  And what was heard hit me right in the solar plexus.

"Oh, no.  Oh, please, please.  Anything!  Can't you do anything?"  The grief, the tears, the think emotion rippled across the hallway and into our exam room.  "oh, God.  Oh, my God ... my beautiful little baby" Her sorrow caught in her throat, her sobs hurt my heart.  Something small and lifeless was brought into the office, wrapped in a lavender sheet, and placed on a metal table.  The door completely closed while the sobbing increased.

And all I could do was cuddle my beagle.  My happy-crazy-sweet-neurotic-funny-dour little beagle who means the very world to me.

"I love you, Ivy," I trembled.  "Now don't you make me cry, you nut."  Ivy calmed down.  Not sure if it was the quiet of our exam room, my holding her, or her sensing I was the one needing comforting now.

It's Thanksgiving week and, although I've been working with gratitude every day for months now, giving thanks this week seems extra-deep, somewhat melancholy, rather moving.  Gratitude has a deeper hue this week, a stronger perfume.  And, at that moment this morning, the perfume was the slightly musky scent I encountered while burying my nose into my beagle's black,tan and white ruff.

We've always had beagles, and only beagles, save for Taffy, who was a beagle-terrier mix ("That's why she isn't too bright," my Mom used to say.  "A beagle would know better.").  And while holding and cuddling and thanking God for my little beagle girl this morning (whose exam went fine, just so you know), I quickly made a mental review of all the wonderful beagles I've had the pleasure of sharing a space with.  Not owning.  Beagles are not owned.  Way too willful for that nonsense.

 It began with Tootsie, our first beagle back in 1969.  Well, actually it really began with Snoopy, the "Peanuts" canine star who made the breed hugely popular in the 60s, and who I adored and felt an immediate kinship with after my first viewing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  But Tootsie was our first 3-dimensional beagle, who I named after the chewy candy, because she had a barrel of a tummy that looked like one.  Mom fed her way too much and Tootsie became a Family-Sized Tootsie roil pretty quickly.  She was smart, aloof, and wasn't much of a cuddler, but she was my first pup, so she will always have the fresh, first pup cache.

Then came the aforementioned Taffy, who we got for free in the mid-Seventies from a young couple who had to give her up because the landlord of their UIC-area apartment wouldn't allow dogs. Taffy had a wiry coat, a silly face, and little flipped ears that made her seem as though she was in a perpetual state of "Huh?".  She also had a propensity to get into things she shouldn't have, and, yes, she didn't seem too bright.  But she was a good Stan Laurel to Tootsie's Oliver Hardy.

Next, in the early 80s, came Penny.  We gave her that name because of the circular tan spot on the very top of her head, "where the angel kissed her", my Mom said.  I remember when Mom brought her home from the shelter.  She made a mad dash and flew up onto the sofa where I was reclining and reading, and proceeded to shower me with kisses.  Penny was a lemon beagle: white and tan, but mostly white.  As she got older, she was almost entirely white.  Penny died from complications from an infection following an emergency hysterectomy.  My Mom fed her cooked chicken which (there was no way to know this for sure) possibly made her sick and, sicne her immune system was compromised, that was that.  Mom never forgave herself for possibly poisoning her.  And Mom was never the same after that.

Fast forward several years and enter Mabel, our inaugural 21st century beagle, who we got from BREW (Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare).  Mabel was found abandoned somewhere in Ohio, had had mammary tumors, was about 6 years old, and was very, very shy, damaged, and unsure.  Mabel was probably mistreated by a woman, because she never completely trusted me, no matter what I did for her.  I recall one day, sitting on the floor with her, holding her and asking her, "Why can't you love me?" through a cascade of tears.  Mabel died of canine lymphoma.  The day before she died, we took her to the forest preserver and took her photo at the far end of a bridge.  We didn't know it would become her rainbow bridge.

And now there's Ivy, who we also rescued from BREW, although now they've got the moniker of Midwest Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare and can be found here:  In some ways, the other dogs were a kind of proving ground for Ivy.  Because she's smart and sometimes aloof like Tootsie, a little goofy like Taffy (She's a puzzlement; I'm still not convinced she's a scent hound.  She'll pass up obvious stinky treats right in front of her because she gets too wound up looking for the thing), a sweet angel like Penny, and nervous like Mabel, with the same horrible separation anxiety.  Ivy is all that, plus blessed by a special kindness and gentleness that I've rarely seen in such a little one.  And she draws people to her.  She can be in a throng of beagles, and people will go straight to her, pick her up, and remark about her beauty and sweetness.  She's got this "it" factor.  In some ways, she's more of a beagle superstar than Snoopy.

Those are the beagles I've known and loved.  Ivy is the present.  I don 't know who'll be in the future.  And, right now, I'm grateful for every snuggle, every odd little snort, every awkward doggy dance (due to her adorable bowed legs).  The present with Ivy is just that: a golden, true, god-sent present.

Ivy amidst the hydrangeas.