Cobalt blue glass
in the morning sun makes me happy.

It’s slow going, but I’m on a mission to transform the barn from a repository of all the stuff I’ve ever owned to just stuff I love.

I’m never going to be a minimalist – cultural artifacts interest me far too much and I’m far too sentimental.  I shocked myself when I began giving away and tossing stuff I’ve schlepped from house to house, city to city, and state to state during the nomadic period of my misspent youth.   Out went the ugly side table I’ve hung onto from the early it-doesn’t-matter-how-ugly-it-is-if-it’s-cheap-enough days of home decorating.  I’ve moved that thing 11 times because I might need it someday.  Out went the jello molds.  I don’t even like jello.  Out went the bedspread that made me frown every time I crawled into bed.  Out went the George Foreman grill that my son, now known as Chef Boy ‘R Mine, would be embarrassed about.  He gave it to me for Christmas one year.  I didn’t use it but kept it for sentimental reasons.   Now that he’s into haute cuisine, I was able to keep the memory and KO George without hurt feelings.  I did keep, and still treasure, the old Campbell’s soup can transformed into a pencil holder through the application of bits of tissue paper, glitter, and glue by Chef Boy ‘R Mine when he was a first-grader.
The hurt feeling thing’s a complicated issue.  We’ve all got that stuff hanging around that we don’t like, don’t want, don’t use, but can’t get rid of because Great Aunt Gertrude will ask, on her next visit, “Where’s the plastic canvas needlepoint tissue holder I gave you last year?”  I don’t have an answer to that except to say that I’m getting old enough now that the Great Aunt Gertrudes of my life are so old that visits involve my going to a personal care facility or seances.  As for friends and their gifts, we’ve all seemed to reach this developmental stage at roughly the same time.  And I do think it’s a developmental stage – at least for women.  It seems to begin when the kids (or husbands) start leaving home.  After a suitable mourning (or celebratory) period, we put our hands on our hips, survey the kingdom, and announce to ourselves “Well, that can go.”   Sometimes it begins when we trip over the stupid cement goose that’s still decorated for Easter on the Fourth of July for the 85th time that day.  (Not that I’ve ever owned a cement goose, but I know people.)  I have a friend who every time someone brings something into her house, she makes them take something out.  (I tried to take the candelabra that hangs over her dining room table, but evidently, not everything in her house is up for grabs.)
Once I got going on giving and pitching, I decided to continue until every single thing in my 2400 sq. ft. of home was here because I love it or use it.  I was making great progress until I hit the Closets-I-Am-Afraid-Of.
When the barn was being remodeled, we built a closet 16 x 8 to compensate for not having an attic, basement or barn.  We knew it was woefully inadequate from the start, but it was better than nothing.  When that filled up, the coat/furnace closet was doubled in size.  By the time that filled up, I had hit the developmental stage.  I tackled the smaller coat closet early on, but a lot of the crap went into the other closet.  I am now terrified to even open the door.
I can’t progress much further until I conquer this fear.  There’s stuff in this house scattered about that I need or use, but am tired of tripping over that could go into that closet if the circa 1970 fan, algebra notebooks, broken lamps, cross stitch patterns, deflated basketball, threadbare sheets, egregious holiday ornaments, transistor radio, and other sheer junk was removed – not to mention the stuff that Has-Promise-And-I-Can-Do-Something-To-Which-Will-Involve-Great-Quantities-Of-Time-And-Effort-And-Money-That-I’m-Never-Going-To-Actually-Do.  And that’s just the crap i can see.  I haven’t seen the back of the closet since 1992.
If I ever do conquer that closet, I can start on the books – hundreds and hundreds of books.  I still have not one, but two copies of my high school trig textbook as well as tomes that I wouldn’t read a second time even on a dare.

Places of Great and Good Interest

Tiaras should be standard issue.

Wednesday evening I was standing in line at the gas station when a little girl, about 5, tapped me on my butt. I turned around and she asked me where I was going as if putting gas in the car was a sign I was going to some place of great and good interest. I told her I wasn’t going anywhere exciting right then, but that Thursday night I was going to a pajama party.

She thought about for awhile and after putting her hands on her hips, she said to me, “Well, don’t forget your tiara.” Bless her heart. How did she know I have a tiara?

I love that some little girls think tiaras are standard issue. I love that this little girl isn’t afraid to ask questions. And I was knocked out by her glittery tennis shoes and Dora Explorer backpack with the Girl’s Rule bumper sticker obscuring Dora’s feet. That child is going to go to places of great interest, I hope.

I did go to a pajama party Thursday night. The Obama Pajama Party was held at the Java Joint in Huntington and hosted by the enthusiastic Democrats I hang out with. The plans were to watch Obama accept the nomination on a large screen with like-minded people wearing pajamas. When I agreed to attend, my mind wasn’t included in “like-minded.”

I am a registered Independent and always have been. I’ve never been able to articulate it with any skill, but there’s something about the party system that pushes all my buttons. I can riff for hours, with little provocation, as to why I think political parties are one of the great evils. In more practical terms, I don’t agree in entirety with either of the two major parties’ platforms. I’ve already got so many labels slapped on me that I don’t need another one that allows people to jump to conclusions about my values, my actions, my thoughts, my experiences. Because of my lack of party affiliation, I have not been able to vote in the Democratic primary in West Virginia. The Republicans welcomed me, but not the Democrats – until this year. Apparently, whatever was rattling around in my mind became of interest.

The Republicans disqualified themselves from my consideration for their violations of trust and decency along with their constitutional outrages.  I did watch their debates just in case.  I didn’t hear anything to change my mind.

I’ve been threatening to sell my unused wide-eyed-political-candidate-enthusiasm on E-Bay. I have never voted for a candidate; I have always voted for the lesser of two evils. The first election I could vote in came after the Nixon scandal, after the Iran hostage crisis, after the horrors in Central America, and after the Big Daddy of them all, the Vietnam War. These things can make a person jaded about politics in America and skeptical of anyone who wants to be a part of it. I’ve often said that I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who wants the job of president.

As it turns out, I had a brand new pair of pajamas recently acquired while on vacation in the Boston area. (Yeah, we hillbillies get around and find the taking-off-the-shoes-thing at the airport right accommodating.) My pajamas, marvels of sartorial art, make for a lovely ensemble with their vibrant redness emblazoned with Drama Queen in white. I had planned to wear them with my nearly knee-high fuzzy, rainbow boot-slippers, but I had never given the tiara a thought. 

A friend of mine, upon learning I had no tiara, sent me one. And it’s a beauty. I can’t remember exactly what it was that she said, but she was incredulous I didn’t own one. Tiaras should be standard issue.

Drama Queens for Obama

I found myself in a coffee shop wearing Drama Queen pajamas, fuzzy slippers, and a tiara. I had feared I would be the only person in pajamas, but I was assured this would not be true. I was, however, the only person in something that really looked like pajamas not to mention the only person in a tiara. I’m really glad I decided against the boa. Magnet. Every camera, digital and video, ended up pointed at me at some point in the evening. Trying to watch a big screen television while wearing a tiara and bifocals in public while also trying to read DNC bloggers on the laptop with television camera lights and camera flashes in one’s eyes is a misery I would only wish upon a few.

And it got worse. In preparation for this pajama party, I had watched some of the convention. I had read and read and read about the issues, the schisms, the rumors and the PUMAs. Since I had not ever really thought Obama was a serious contender, I hadn’t spent much time learning about him. I didn’t think he was not a contender because we, the collective we, are racist, but because we, the collective we, can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to Muslims. The truth be damned, there are still far too many people in this country convinced that man is a Muslim, which for so many of them equates to terrorist.

I enjoyed every segment of the convention I had time to watch, but this last event just rocked. I was pretty much glued to the screen, especially after Obama began speaking, because my inner-cynic demanded I pick apart every word; find the flaws in his reasoning and the gaping holes in his plans. The cynic was quieted and I was spellbound.

Those “like-minded” people were chanting, fussing at me to put my tiara on, putting my campaign sign in my hand so I could wave it for the cameras, hollering at me to go sit here, go sit there, stand up, and on and on. I’m trying to listen to this guy. I’m trying to watch the celebratory finale. Eventually, I wrapped the campaign sign in the tiara and put the tiara on my head in hopes they’d let me listen. While I’ll never be wide-eyed and without criticism, I can vote FOR this man. I am pleased to vote for this man. I might campaign for him.

I will not change my party affiliation, though. Anybody can join me in my newly-formed Drama Queens for Obama even if you don’t have a tiara, aren’t a Drama Queen, and have wide-eyed, non-critical enthusiasm.

And if anyone knows that little girl, you tell her I’m doing my part to make sure she always goes to places of great and good interest.

School Supplies

of course the chair is a tractor seat when you live in a barn

The chair is a tractor seat
when you live in a barn

Today is the first day of school for the public schools as well as for Marshall University.

I feel left out.

I was that kid that loved the first day of school. My enthusiasm would often wane after a few weeks, but the first day contains such promise. Adults rarely get that one day when everything is reset to zero and it all starts over.

My first day of school was always preceded by shopping for new clothes and school supplies. I was almost always more excited about the school supplies than the clothes.

On that first day of school, I would set out with a book bag (backpacks didn’t exist except for backpacking) loaded for every conceivable need whether it be writing my name or having to immediately produce a 700-page dissertation.

For most of my education the big box office supply stores didn’t exist – Kmart and the PX were the retailers I used most often. I would fairly swoon at the rows and stacks of notebooks and pens and rulers and pencil cases and erasers and Trapper Keepers and folders and notebook paper. I had a strong preference for the college-ruled notebooks and paper.. Even now, I can’t go into an office supply store without buying some “first day of school” item that I don’t need and probably won’t use. I have pointedly resisted getting an Office Depot credit card.

After leaving school, my passion for office supplies has been trumped by that for desks. I’m a desk junkie. I have three at home, two at the office and can’t get through a furniture store without looking at desks.

My desks are fully stocked with all the critical office supplies – pens, paper, journals, staplers, hole-punchers, calculators, tape dispensers, toys, souvenirs, essential oils, folders, binders, motivational materials, blank CDs and a coffee cup.

Oddly enough, I do all of my paperwork sitting on the sofa.

McNamara’s Tears

When I wrote the About section, I mentioned Kate Long’s Root Hog.  I had the pleasure of seeing Kate perform at the Appalachian Women’s Alliance’s Ironweed Festival.  The gathering was a blessing in so many respects, but it was especially memorable because I heard her perform McNamara’s Tears, a memoir piece about the Vietnam War.  Although she’s an icon in these parts, meeting and hearing her at the festival was my first exposure to her music.

1966 Brat (with brat being the operative word)

1966 Brat
(brat being the operative word)

The Vietnam War haunts me still.  My father, a career Marine, did four tours in that hell hole.  He still defends the US’s participation in that mess and can’t fathom my anti-war stance.  Hearing McNamara’s Tears was painful, yet cathartic.  The song arrived when I was just beginning to sort out my thoughts and feelings over what I had experienced as a military brat surrounded by other brats whose dads were gone, maimed or dying.  I sat and listened to Kate while the tears rolled down my face. 

I’ve got family members and friends tied up in the current mess.  My mind worries and my heart aches.  Not too long ago Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale released the Road to Escondido.  Aside from my Great Fandom of All Things Clapton, I had to have the album for another reason – the title.  I used to live in Escondido during my nomadic brat years.  When this War is Over is one of my favorite cuts losing out as #1 in my personal hit parade to Ride the River (I do love a good guitar shuffle).

When this war is over, it will be a better day.