Monday, June 28, 2010

Thumbs? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Thumbs.

image ©2010 ccw/halfglassistan
Hullo all. 

Tilly here, liveblogging from CCW's summer annex. Otherwise known as the kitchen, which is approximately 15 feet farther away from the sun than the winter quarters. Otherwise known as the room above the garage, which is approximately 1.5˚ warmer at any given moment.

It is a most comfortable change of pace. We are turning dreams into ideas in cool comfort. Dad is but a glance away, we're watching the Gamecocks in Omaha on the big TV, sipping on ice-cold tea and generally delighting in our consummate cleverness.

This migration of CCWHQ to the first floor also marks the fulfillment of a particular dream of mine. I've longed for a cozy perch from which to observe the magical feats of food on these kitchen counters. A spot that would allow me to be ready to jump in and assist at a moment's notice. (I've always thought I'd make a fine sous chef, given the chance.) Et voila! — Not only do I have a cushioned chair on which to keep vigilant watch over the foodstuffs, but also one with wheels to spirit me from table to counter to refrigerator (ah! do I dare?)!

Upon further inspection, however, it seems the bounty that has Mom so excited holds absolutely no thrill for me:

image ©2010 ccw/halfglassistan


image ©2010 ccw/halfglassistan
Excuse me. I have to go plan my Keep-The-Chair-In-The-Kitchen-'Til-Christmas campaign.

Tilly out.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Think That Means Heaven

"where diet coke comes from" (c)2002-2010 natalie dee (whoi am so loving lately)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Morning-Beach-Musing Wednesday

image ©2010 ccw/halfglassistan

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Because I Believe In You Even When You Don't

"You gain 
strength, courage and confidence 
by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. 
You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. 
I can take the next thing that comes along.'

You must do the thing 
you think you cannot do."

- Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Of Daddies and Daughters

I am one of three daughters. 

The middle one, to be precise. Which yes, since you asked (You did. I know you did.), does also mean the obnoxious, look-at-me-here-I-am, emotional and dramatic one.

(Really? Really with the surprise on that? I should think the pieces would be falling into place.)

Growing up, my sisters and I would ask my dad if he ever wanted sons. He'd reply, "No. I always wanted girls. Boys grow up and leave you. Girls always come home." Satisfied, we stopped asking.

When we got older and suspected that his answer, while clever and sweet, might have been a simple way to deflect an unanswerable question, we asked again.

Same answer. And we were clever enough to discern he meant what he said. Satisfied, we stopped asking.

And, we didn't need to ask. We never did. 

My father never gave us any reason to think there was anything wanting in his life. He taught us to love what he loved. To love how he loved.

My love of words and knowledge and adventure all come from my father. I don't remember a day when I couldn't read, didn't have a question forming in my mind or didn't want to explore whatever it was I saw around me. I don't remember a time when I wasn't surrounded by books, didn't have a desire to wander through a museum or didn't want to see for myself the things that other people only saw in pictures.

My father taught me how to read by reading to me. My father taught me how to learn by learning with me. My father taught me how to appreciate everything around me by not hiding his wonder in everything around him. My father took me to libraries, museums, zoos, parks and landmarks large and small throughout America and Europe, and I seek them out for myself now. Because I want to. I have to. It's in my blood. It's in every breath I take.

My father taught me how to love by loving. Unconditionally. And I can't elaborate on that, because there are no qualifiers. It simply is what it is.

I could, however, elaborate endlessly on everything else my father taught me — and perhaps I already do. Everyday. Right here.

But not now.

Right now, I'm going home.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Because I'm Also Sentimental And Like Alliteration ...

And, as always, because I can, I declare today another Flashback Friday.

(It's nice having your own imaginary world to rule. I highly recommend it whenever I meet another delightfully obnoxious egomaniac. It's quite choice.)

Today is about more than (just) being lazy, however. I'm kicking off Father's Day weekend with a memory of the man who called me his "Tomato Girl." 

Papa, this one was, is, and will always be, for you:

It's A Happy Tomato Kind of Day

My favorite food hands-down (and I've tasted plenty to compare) is tomatoes. 

I am, in fact, a tomato snob. I would rather go without than eat a sub-par, off-season, mealy, refrigerated (oh, the horror!) sorry excuse for my beloved red globes of joy. 

This morning, Jamie and I went to market. I now have a ceramic bowl on my counter overflowing with tomatoes in various stages of ripeness, just waiting to make me happy. This is not an adult-acquired taste, but rather one cultivated at an early age in the dark, black soil of the Calumet Region of Northern Indiana. 

My sweetest childhood memories are of gathering that day's vegetable yield from my Papa's garden. Snap beans, green onions, peppers, radishes, zucchini, and more would be plucked from their plants, each selected by Papa's knowing eye. The tomatoes, however, held no mystery. I knew exactly which were ready to pluck, which were salvageable from the ground, and which would be ready tomorrow. Best of all, I knew which ones would never make it across the yard and into the sink for washing. Those were carefully wiped with Papa's handkerchief and handed to me. They felt firm but tender in my hand, and with the warmth of the sun, I think I imagined them pulsing with life. I would lift them to my face with both hands. Mouth open as wide as possible, I'd bite the fragile skin and feel the fruit explode in my mouth, laughing and slurping as it squirted everywhere. 

I close my eyes and can still feel the hot black earth between my toes, the calloused skin of Papa's hands, and the sun on my skin. I smell a comforting melange of dirt, onions, and pipe tobacco. I hear the whir of dragonflies, chirping of birds, the creak of a screen door, and Nana's voice call out, "Reg!" And I taste heaven.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless I-Love(!)-Luna Wednesday

 luna the albino alligator at north carolina aquarium at fort fisher
image ©2010 ccw/halfglassistan

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cyber Cheer

On day three of life here in Halfglassistan, GolfGal showed up. She never left. And I hope she never does. Her quiet determination as she fully lives and loves life despite cancer recurrences is an inspiration.

Today, over in her little corner of the universe, she shared a message from a friend about women and how we take care of each other when we " ... share from our souls with our sisters, and evidently that is very good for our health ..."

So now I'd like to share it, and GolfGal, with you.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hail Nectar, Full of Taste

"our lady of perpetual diet coke" (c)2002-2010 natalie dee (whoi am so loving lately)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Think This Is Where We Came In

Guess what?  

Halfglassistan was founded one year ago. One year ago, yesterday. Which is when some inspired message about how far this little land of my creation has come would have been appropriate.

Yeah, don't scroll back. It's not there. 

That's what happens when your fearless leader is a procrastiperfectionator. Or is happily absorbed in her new job. Or is too busy transcribing all the ideas that came to her on her beach trip. Or is working on the next step in world domination improvements to this little spot on your mental map. Or is just too focused forward to spend too terribly much time navel-gazing about the precise progression of the past 360-odd days.

A little looking back is appropriate, though. Especially when I see that one year ago on this day, the first Sunday in June, I wrote about National Cancer Survivors Day. At the time, I already knew Mr. J and I were survivors. But to what degree? And of what exactly? That was all still a big, huge, scary unknown, less than two weeks into chemotherapy. 

Now, rereading those words today, I remember how we faced it with a single-minded determination. And I can't improve on the message, so I won't try.

But I will add this: Mr. J had his latest round of post-chemo bloodwork this past week. All clear. So amen and thank you, again, dear universe. And, uh, cancer? Take that.

From June 7, 2009: (and yes, it still means you)

Happy National Cancer Survivors Day 
(Yes, This Means You!)
Today is National Cancer Survivors Day. What's that you say? You didn't get your Cancer Cards out on time? You don't know any Cancer Carols? You didn't hang your Cancer Stocking last night or find gifts under your Cancer Tree this morning? 

'Fess up. You didn't know it was National Cancer Survivors Day. Neither did I. You probably don't think it applies to you, either. Neither did I. 

We were both wrong.
"The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation defines a 'survivor' as anyone living with a history of cancer -- from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life."
If you are one of the millions of people who has ever heard the "C" word as a label for anything growing on or in your body, I hate to burst your bubble, but it needs to be done: You. Are. A. Cancer. Survivor.

And if you're someone who actually uses the phrase the "C" word, you probably also think there's cancer and cancer. Cancer is cancer is cancer. Stick with me, please. Because while it is simple, I am not naive enough to think it is that simple. Cancer is a complex animal with many levels of invasion, treatment and survival. Hell, why else do all those terms stage, grade, spread, size and myriad other qualifiers exist? The depths of that, though, are a topic for another day.

Today, cancer is cancer is cancer. Cancer is learning about that funky mole you just had scooped out. Cancer is learning that those funky cells somewhere inside you need to be removed before they grow. Cancer is learning that the funky pain that won't go away isn't going to go away. 

A survivor starts paying attention and isn't scared to have tests. A survivor isn't afraid to have surgery that removes vulnerable tissues or organs. A survivor accepts that life as it once was will never be again, but there is still life.

Survivors talk about cancer. And that's how we live with it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wild Thing. You Make My Heart Sing.

CatCon lost her voice last weekend at the beach. In fact, it's still gone, or she'd be posting this herself.

What's that? What does not having a voice have to do with being able to rock the keyboard on your best friend's blog, you may ask? You may ask, but I don't have the answer. She's pouty that way. Probably because I took away her whiteboard because I was tired of seeing her write:

"WHY? Why CAN'T we live at the beach? Give me ONE good reason. I could sing at that dive by the pier. TILLY could frolic in the dunes. MR. J could let his hair grow long — well, longer — and sell friendship bracelets. YOU could do whatever it is you do." (It was a very large whiteboard. She's now trying to master the art of lettering on an Etch-A-Sketch. It's not looking promising. )

So. CatCon lost her voice. No easy feat, but probably attributable to the ingestion of many hops and much tequila.

Or maybe multiple scoops of ice cream overcoated her vocal chords.

And definitely the sand. She swallowed a lot when she face planted on the shore. No connection whatsoever with the hops and the tequila, however. She was just giving the beach a hug — a big one — when we first arrived.

And the beach hugged her back. And said, "CatCon, I think I love you."

A girl could get used to that.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carolina In My Mind

Sitting on the beach, overwhelmed with a glorious sensory overload, I thought of two dear friends whom I knew were there with me in spirit. Given that they weren't actually within earshot to hear either a squee of delight, a sigh of contentment, or an alternating rhythm of the two, I decided to text them a simple message.

In my immediate short-term memory, or within my direct line of sight were several captivating images.

Like this one.

Or this one.

Or this one.

Or this one.

And definitely this one.

So. I scrolled to their names in my cell, composed a simple three-word text message, and hit "send."

My phone buzzed me back almost immediately with a response from sweet CVZ, with the simple advice to "enjoy" and her always-appropriate admonition to "breathe." (I do need reminding. To breathe. It's a problem.) A few minutes later, my phone buzzed again. Absorbed with all my my enjoying and breathing, I reached for it with a smile, certain it would be an equally happy response from sweet SPG.


Apparently, I only had SPG's landline programmed. The notice was from Verizon, kindly offering to transmit my text as a voice message. For a split second (Or two. I can be impulsive. It's a problem. Ironically, SPG is the one who has talked me down off that particular ledge.), I considered it. I thought, "Wow-isn't-that-cool-you-can-send-a-text-to-a-landline-and-it-magically-turns-into-a-voice-message." Just as my finger was headed in for a landing on the "send" key, two things occurred to me.

One: It wouldn't be my voice. It would probably be some skeevy computer-generated voice. Or worse, a voice like the lady who lives inside the voicemail box. Who doesn't sound like me, but might sound enough like somebody to make SPG wonder, "Do I know this chick?"

Two: Context. Not only would a disembodied, unknown voice be delivering the message, but those three words would be delivered in the absence of any frame of reference.

I started to imagine picking up my own phone to hear something along the lines of: "the following is a message from meaningless-number-number-number (I don't know anyone's actual phone number anymore. Do you?) ..." followed by my well-intentioned, share-the-moment three-word text. And then I decided against it.

Because I may be overly excitable, impulsive and even delightfully obnoxious, but even I know hearing a random voice on the phone saying "greetings from heaven" is just creepy.

Making Friends (or Beach Bliss, Day Two)

This is a first for Halfglassistan: a literal transcription of my journal, but the first draft needed no editing. Day two, morning one, of beach therapy, in which I say my ritual hello to the beach:

5:30 a.m., Saturday, May 29
Carolina Beach, Cape Fear, North Carolina

Sunrise. The wind is brisk. It's unimaginable that it's this cool in May, much less June, but I love it. Will be interested to see how warm (hot?) it is later on the beach. Amazing how, just like the sound of the surf magically transforms the environs once one crosses the path of buildings, so too changes the temperature. It is, without a doubt, another world. And, one I have longed for and needed for far too long. It was more than worth the wait.

6:30 a.m.
Back on our deck

I have not been one to gather shells since I was a little girl, except for the one or two that would always be pocketed as a tangible souvenir on the last day of beach therapy. This morning, however, I have returned with no fewer than nine. They, like this beach that is not a grand strand, are rough and weathered. The sand here is amazingly soft at the dunes, more powdery than any other I recall crossing. This fine, fragile base, however, quickly gives way to  coarser, sturdier grains. This, too, is unlike any other I've known. Mixed in with the impersonal taupe I'm expecting is not the familiar reddish hue of Georgia clay, nor the pure yellow color of the cornmeal I used to make a desert diorama in the seventh grade, yet some color all its own that is, at once, evocative of both of those references. Stepping further, I am immediately struck by an infusion of black and slate into the palette, to include random clumps of clay. 

The tinges of black remind me of the sandbox in my Nana and Papa's yard. My sister, cousins — and all the neighborhood kids with whom we graciously shared Nana and Papa — and I would dig as deep as we could to reach the cool, wet sand deep in the sunken site. As deep as Dairy Queen spoons and empty Peanut-Buster Parfait cups and Pringle's cans would allow our stubby (but resourceful) little hands, that is. We'd catch just a glimpse of the rich black Calumet soil, know we were that much closer to China — then quickly funnel it back in the illicit hole before Papa spotted it. Here on the Atlantic coast — a thousand miles away on the map (and a million in my mind) — the juxtaposition is both jarring and delightful.

The shells I have arranged before me now — aligned, from smallest to largest, in a straight line on the on the rail of our balcony (a formation that has me instantly questioning my obsessive compulsive reflexes that so easily reveal themselves) — are happy finds. Like all the other revelations this morning beach has represented, these shells are out of context with my expectations. I am first struck by the large number of intact oyster shells. Really? I've never seen some so large and/or prolific outside of on an empty platter in a bar — or the whitewashed masses found outside said joint. Where are oyster beds? I never thought to wonder, but I suppose I always imagined they must be near rocks — all the better to have allowed that first brave soul to crack them open. As this shoreline progresses north, it becomes more rugged. Perhaps these oysters' former homes have traveled down some current's path.

While I did leave the oyster chunks in the sand, the others I've carried back were also surprising. It was still high tide, so anything other than chunks and chips of what were once pristine exoskeletons of marine mollusks is rare and special. So to find an intact specimen as large as my palm was amazing. It's not perfect — in the traditional sense, anyway — you'd never see this piece in a souvenir shop. But I wouldn't want that anyway. Trite, unoriginal, and as unreal to me as if it were pressed in a mold, a store-bought shell is like a silk flower: intended to be a beautiful facsimile of what nature produces, but in an immutable, homogenized form. Isn't that the very antithesis of nature? Not my shells. They are hard and weathered, but solid. They have substance, weight and undeniable strength. They are unapologetically imperfect, but proudly resilient. There is beauty in their scarred outsides, and an exquisite elegance and grace in their polished insides.

I like my shells. Were they people, I'd be proud to know them.

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