In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poetry: Housekeeper


People of all types
Come and go to my hotel
The same room will house
Many different lives

Some stay for less than eight hours
Others for days
Each time I reset the room
Removing the evidence of a life

I know them now when they walk in
Not by name or by hometown
I know them by their stains
The marks left behind, that I clean

For you I’ll find wine rings
Dried on the tables
Some spills on the sheets
Bottles in the garbage

For you I’ll find diapers
Filling both waste baskets
Spit-up on the bed cover
A travel crib I’ll have to take down

For you I’ll find almost nothing
You made your bed before leaving
Your shower was too quick to dirty
Changing the sheets I’ll find a sock

I clean the room
The same room
Over and over
I clean you away

Washing the tub
Scrubbing off the ring
Removing the hair
Wiping down the mirror

Dusting the room
Making the bed
Vacuuming it all away
You are gone


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Abigail, the Short Story

In honor of my dad’s birthday I submitted a 72 page short story, “Abigail”, to the magazine Asimov’s Science Fiction. Isaac Asimov was one of his favorite
sci-fi writers. A small segment of the story is posted below.
Love you dad, rest in peace-

"One of the monitors detecting brain activity jumps up and down, setting off an alarm in Dean’s bedroom. The Doctor went to sleep just three hours prior, wearing nothing but his boxers and a t-shirt, his white lab jacket thrown over a chair. For five days now he kept a vigil at Abigail’s bed side, seeing to every detail regarding her recovery. It was after all HIS discovery. He wanted to be the one to revive her, to talk to her, and welcome her into the new world. Dean set up an office at the lab two doors down from the revival room, with a small bed and brought over some clothes. He and his assistants were not allowed to leave the lab. Ray had to be sent out to get some sensitive items that could not be beamed or generated in just the other day. “Hopefully he kept his contract of confidentiality in mind.” Dean thought, as he ran down the hall, white jacket in hand, “It’s the moment of truth…”

The doctor was thoughtful enough to redesign one of the lab rooms into an apartment for her. Hopefully it would help Abigail adjust to waking up in what is to her the year 5096. He brought up some of the paintings and furniture he found in the storage area of the underground vault; assuming of course that they were hers. He closed the shields on all the sections of the lab she would have access to so as to conceal the fact they were on a massive space station orbiting the Earth. He even had the simulator create clothes for her from some fabric and designs he found at the famous New York fabric warehouse site.

When he entered the control room positioned behind a two way wall made to look like a book shelf, he was shocked. Abigail was sitting up right and was in a daze. “Oh my God is there brain damage?” he wondered.

Pushing an intercom button he announced “Boys get over to the observation room now- she’s awake”

The twins rushed in, and were also speechless. For more than five days with little sleep, seeing their subject awake and walking was like a dream. “Is it real? Could it be she is alive?” Ray thought.

“Boys we are witnessing a miracle. She’s been revived! Now we need to pray her mind is still in one piece. The psychology of waking someone after all those years…” Dean didn’t want to continue his sentence; the words seemed too heavy to leave his mouth. He was prepared to interact with her. Rehearsing in his mind all week, since he first saw her, what he would say and how he would say it. Three pair of eyes watched her as she explored the surroundings.

“Look she seems to recognize the paintings. That’s a good sign.”

Abigail came around to the bookcase and reached out to touch a book. The vibration of the field tingling her down her arm. Compelled to join her, Dean got up and touched the shield on the opposite side of her hand. For a moment he could feel her.

“I’m going in. Set the visual document device on.”

“It’s been on.”

“Good. I’m going in.”

“You said that already.” Ray couldn't’t help himself. It was strange enough to see the doctor in his boxers much less around a pretty woman.

The doctor looked at Ray. “I know I just said that.”

“Sir, you need some pants.” Jay, always the helpful one.

“Yes I do. I need pants.”

...oh my goodness! What will happen next? Does Abigail have brain damage? Did Ray keep the secret? Will the doctor find his pants?
Hopefully by Fall 2010 you'll be able to read the whole story in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frizz Control

The other day there was a rare moment at the local grocery store; both my teen-aged daughter and I were choosing a shampoo at the same time. My daughter has short, wavy, hair that she can wear straight or natural. I on the other hand have longer, naturally curly, thick hair that tends to be on the dry side. On this particular day we both were out of shampoo and thought to find one brand that would work for both of us. This proved to take longer than I could have ever imagined. How could we choose the right shampoo for our hair?

If you haven't noticed there is a new retail trend on the shelves called "customizing". The manufacturer makes a wide "performing" range of the same product with hopes of snagging customer brand loyalty, under the false content that they produced exactly what you needed. Making the same product seem “new and exciting” continually sounds exhausting to me, but that’s exactly what’s happening! It’s important to know, when it comes to shampoo that there are only four basic shampoo types: deep cleansing, conditioning, baby, and anti-dandruff. Despite this the manufacturers continue to display the illusion that there are MANY different shampoos. This style of marketing is also found in products such as skin care, make up, lotion and toothpaste.

We are both on a budget and decided to choose a brand that was on sale. A brand line we both like was, so we started to choose a set of shampoo and conditioner from the rainbow display of bottles, lined up like couples in a wedding greeting line. There were eight sets of bottles! When did buying shampoo get so complicated?

As we scanned down the line we discussed openly if that product would work for both heads of hair. To keep it simple we went down the shelf left to right. The conversation went something like this: “Color Treated Hair”, NO, neither of us had colored our hair recently, next- “Straight Out”, NO my daughter straightens hers I wear my natural, next- “Curl Up”, NO same reasons, reverse heads, “For Gray Hair”, no comment, “Big Body” neither of us needed to add any more fluff to our hair, next- “Deep Conditioning” in the dry, cold months this one works great but it was June, next- “Frizz Control”, our eyes met, “Could this be the one?” We thought. YES! We had an accord. Frizz Control worked great for both of us. Mission accomplished!

The art of shopping is often compared to the “gather” side of our human instincts, but that afternoon I felt more like a “hunter”. In the end we found a shampoo that met both of our needs and no more frizzies, at least until the bottle runs out. Remember the four basic types of shampoo, feel your hair and decide for yourself. Don't forget to change up your shampoo type once a month to avoid build up. When your hair looks good you feel good, and feeling good is worth spending a few moments reading labels.
Somewhere over the rainbow, is the perfect, specially made JUST-FOR-YOU shampoo, go get it!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Poetry: Blue Orange Green

Groves of madrona trees
Set up against the blue sky
Amongst other northwest evergreens
Moss dripping from your branches
Sways in the breeze

The orange bark peeling down your arms
Shinning green leaves
Open, basking in the sun
Blue, orange, green

Palo Verde tree giving shade
Placed in this orange desert by giants
Blue sky means no rain today in the southwest
Branches reach out like an umbrella
Dust Devils dance with joy

Green bark smooth and knotty
Needle shaped leaves move like
Ladies fanning themselves cool
Blue, orange, green

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bird Brain

There is a celebrated free concert available to anyone who lives near trees. Songbirds create a relaxing atmosphere, a symphony of background noise that only nature itself could conduct. The soothing effects are almost immediate; a lower heart beat, a happier disposition, and a smile on your face.

In the winter my yard is quiet, almost too quiet. I’ll find that I tend to turn on music or hum more during those dark months. Perhaps I hum more because I miss the sound of constant summer songs that seem to emanate from the trees themselves? Humans sing to their children, with each other, and to themselves much like birds do. Is there a correlation between the bird’s brain and ours?

Studies of the mockingbird have shown that there could be. Ornithologists have found that mockingbird species living in unpredictable climates, such as a desert, tend have more elaborate songs than those living in more stable climates. Songs are used to attract mates; a mockingbird has the unique ability to create, copy and “make up” variations of songs. It’s believed the female may choose a male based on the differences in his song, interpreting it as a sign of strength and intelligence. This is highly relevant to human behavior because some believe there is a connection between the development of the bird’s brain and our own. Human displays of language, the arts and music might have evolved through a similar process.

As I was considering the social pressures that might have caused the mockingbird to over perform, somehow my “bird brain” made the connection with humans surviving in unpredictable climates, and the artistic outcomes of those experiences. My mind wondered through the planets “hot spots” marveling at Russian painters, Polish pottery, hand painted beads of Ghana, and the woven fabrics of Peru. Just like I would sing to myself more often in the winter, the cultures that live in harsh conditions tend to have a more colorful lifestyle. Different levels of expression, but expression none the less.

Living in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona for example, I loved the painted freeways. What an unexpected surprise! Instead of a drab cement grey the corridors are painted pleasant colors of purple, peach, yellow, red and green. I also noticed a breath of life in the talavera pottery, jewelry, traditional clothing, and home décor. Could cultures that developed in unpredictable climates develop a richer more colorful environment? It seems that way. This summer I view the song birds with a new eye and ear. Is that a flock of Chickadees in the tree or a mariachi band? Either way it’s the sound of life!