Monday, March 31, 2008


As in Springs. As in spring break, half of which we spent in Arkansas. My 9 year old wondered why we don't pronounce the "s" at the end. Hence she called it "Arkansauce" all weekend.
We peeled off layer after layer as we got closer to the sound of my complaint that although I'd checked in with that very morning I still managed to pack all the wrong things. The car thermometer read 82 degrees. However, the next day the temps had dropped to the 30s - 40's and the day was cold and wet. Again I complained I packed all the wrong things as we donned layer after layer of clothing in efforts to get warm. Not to worry: we were staying in a cozy little cottage made all the cozier by the inclement weather. We had fresh coffee, thick comforters, a stack of DVDs we replenished daily and, best of all, no agenda.

Eureka Springs in its heyday was home to something like 30,000 people and is now down to just above 2000. Nestled between green hills, the charming and historic little town is dotted with gingerbread houses, B&Bs, shops and quite an entertaining cast of characters.

A few miles down the road is a 450 acre refuge for rescued exotic animals--it's amazing how many people have procured baby tigers, lions, cougars and bears and attempted to raise them in basements, bedrooms and backyards before becoming confounded by how big and uncontrollable these animals inevitably grew. Many of these majestic animals became permanently handicapped due to owners who had no idea how to take care of them before they eventually offloaded them at the refuge.

One afternoon while carting some heavy ceramics we'd purchased up the very long hill to our cottage we were offered a ride by a car we'd spotted earlier with delight. Covered with fishing paraphernalia, it reminded us of Houston's art car parade which we loved to attend each spring. Turns out that not only did the woman driving the car know of the Art Car Parade, she'd participated in it for the last two years. It's an artsy little place.

And, to top it off, the largest sculpture in North America, Christ of the Ozarks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Night on Cherry

Be ahead of all parting, as though it already were
behind you, like the winter that has just gone by.
For among these winters there is one so endlessly winter
that only by wintering through it all will your heart survive.

Rainer Maria Rilke from "The Sonnets of Orpheus XIII"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I've just finished a so-so novel called "Best Friends," having been drawn to the book by its title which is significantly better than the book turned out to be. The top cover blurb said, "A valentine to the staying power of women's friendships." That's all it took for me to part with my fourteen bucks. And spend 483 pages waiting for my Valentine. Thank you Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Anyhoo, Clare, the main character, an AIDS doctor, argues a couple of times in the book against Sister Mary Klein's belief that things always turn out okay, that things work for the greater good. Claire doesn't "have that kind of faith," believing herself a "realist" and that tragedy is worthless. I wouldn't argue that things always work out okay OR that tragedy is worthless. Things don't always work out okay. People get sick, people die. Terrible, ugly, wicked things happen. The story (as far as we can see) does not always have a happy, or even bearable, ending.
But Easter. The redemption story, God reconciling the world to himself. It doesn't matter if you believe it, it's truth is neither propelled nor hindered by our acceptance, denial or even awareness of it. Without Easter, tragedy IS worthless. Pain and suffering, evil and death are not illusions, they are material realities, but realities that are subject to redemption. And therein lies hope. Easter is how God threw his arms around the world and promised, "It is going to be alright."

Monday, March 17, 2008

Girls noticing boys

"Mommy, why does it seem like boys are more special in this world than girls are?"
As we drove to her after school guitar lesson, my eight year old daughter (my mud princess) who is generously endowed with astute observations expressed frustration with this one.
"What makes you say that?" I tentatively inquired.
"Why do they talk about the 'first woman doctor'? Why did it take so long for a woman to be a doctor? Why is that a big deal? Why are there men's faces on all the money, except for maybe the queen or something? Why does everything seem to be about boys?"
Those simple questions were a reality check for me as I began to try to explain the "whys." She sees both a woman and an African-American male running for president and has no idea that that is the least bit extraordinary. I had to explain to her why it is. She has no idea how many "firsts" preceded this first or that she'll probably be paid significantly less for doing the same work as a boy. But that she should thank her lucky stars because she's still light-years ahead, rights-wise, of every woman who preceded her generation and most of the rest of the women around the world at this moment. Which is good news. Which is bad news. Which is hard to explain to my daughter.

The Tide of March

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Melancholy Part 2

Not to obsess or anything, but these unyieldingly leaden, cold, introverted weeks on end have taken their toll. I'm not the only one clawing at the walls and jonesing for spring. A lot of people I know are hanging on by their fingernails.
Today we had temps of over 70 with clear skies and bright sun. I felt like superwoman. On the way back from a meeting today, knowing tomorrow promises rain and falling temps, I hijacked my sweetie and took the very long road home. We had the windows down and music up, winding around the backroads till we ran across Ray's BBQ where we stopped for a late lunch. Need I say "bliss?" However, winter is not finished with us yet so here is another take (see Jan. 22 for "In Praise of Melancholy") on melancholy to cheer us all up as we endure its last hurrah: The Miracle of Melancholia

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Post Aftershock

Over eggs and toast at Ernie's diner today, Hayley asked if Libbles was going to have any more kittens. "No, we think she's done." Three kittens, one already spoken for. Famous last words. We got home and discovered kitten #4, 39 hours after her big brother introduced himself. Are we finished NOW?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

New Mama

Last night we had a surprise. Only hours after learning our cat's sister who lives down the street had been confirmed pregnant by the vet (as opposed to having a bad case of worms) and therefore surmised our thick around the middle feline probably was too, she dropped two kittens. I now understand the "ow" of "meow" as that was our signal another kitty was about to appear. Libbles had two within an hour. She delivered the placenta and cleaned them up as we got used to the idea our cat ownership had just tripled. Then, today at noon, 12 hrs. after the first kitten emerged, another series of loud, sharp meOWS and another one popped out. Hayley named it "Aftershock."
Anyone want a kitten?

Monday, March 03, 2008

State of Mind

I don't know if this explains it or if I've merely lost mine. But I hope to post again before spring. Of '08.