Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why Stop There?

When our bookcase toppled in the earthquake we piled books in a spare room and studied the empty area left in the hallway. Why buy a new case and set it up against old paint and flooring, so we painted the wall and thought about a new floor.

But why stop there? The kitchen floor is on the schedule for replacement next year. We should replace it now so it matches the floor under the new bookcase.
And if we are doing the floor under the bookcase in the hall, and in the kitchen, then we should add the two bathrooms. It makes more sense to buy big chunks of flooring and do it all at once.
But why stop there? Around the corner, the bathroom could do with some brightening. Has it really been 20 years since the last coat of paint? And the lights, faucets, and towel racks are ancient. We’ll shop for the latest designs.       
The master bath needs an update too. Won’t that look sharp?
But why stop there? We’ll spruce up the kitchen walls, and while we’re at it, let’s paint the whole inside of the house. That way it will be ready for the new carpeting next spring.
But why stop there? Because we will run out of money till next spring!
New carpeting.  Paint the outside of the house to match the new insides. 

Napa's earthquake in August served as motivation for our home improvements. What motivates you?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cherish Sleep

August 24th: Able Computers
After the earthquake slammed Napa on August 24th, I had trouble getting a good night’s sleep. I didn’t trust the quiet of my room or my bed’s ability to stay put. Even the steady breathing of my husband beside me didn’t convince me to close my eyes for long as if my nervous system stood guard. And according to all the articles I read in our local paper, I wasn’t alone. Some say we are all suffering from PTSD.
Now that I am beginning to sleep better, my newly energized self is finding that there have been lots of little mistakes going on behind my back, or should I say behind my mind. For instance, at my job (Able Computers, our home-based business) I had forgotten to mark off a big stack of invoices that had been paid. Recently, I found an overdue bill in a dusty pile outside! It’s no surprise. We cleaned up too fast, shoved stuff in corners, or in containers, and hauled it all outside until we could re-organize.

One columnist for the paper described her condition as feeling discombobulated— I love that word. Me too! As my world went out of whack my organizational skills went bye-bye. A simple trip to the grocery store was an ordeal. Not only did I forget to consult my list, I skipped whole isles. No frozen food: peas, waffles, or ice cream!    

I should explain that the day after the quake our relatives from out of town rallied around us. They spent hours here muddling through the mess. At one point my husband, Dave, told everyone just take it all out of the office and we’ll put things back in, one item at a time.
My brother-in-law kept muttering, “You’ve got too much stuff.”
It’s true we have too much stuff—had too much stuff. Back in the house, glass, glass, glass. So many things are made of glass: figurines, sugar bowls, liquor bottles, china—almost all my pretty tea cups. My sister-in-law, a retired school teacher kept me focused, “If we can just get your main living space in order, you’ll feel better.”
By the time they left I did feel better. Thank you, family!
Able Computers opened for business on Monday as usual. Maybe that was our problem. We didn’t give ourselves time to process what happened. Now, a few weeks down the road Dave describes the event as not unlike a bad accident, and we are grieving the things that we lost. We should give ourselves time to do that, not shake it off too quickly and announce that all is well.
It wasn’t. It was terrifying. No wonder I lost sleep, but now that I am sleeping better I shall always remember to cherish it. 
For comment, share a bit of your experience with an earthquake or any other disaster.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Mother's Blessing

Jim and Whitney Toboni

A Mother’s Blessing

Jim and Whitney Toboni, August 20, 2014
I have no idea how two people know from the moment they meet
that they will always be together
How did I know when I met David that he was the one?
How did Tim and Dawn know when their eyes locked?
I’m just delighted all of us ended up together
because the result is Jim and Whitney, and they are clearly in love

Theirs is a modern fairytale
Even when the two were far apart
Whitney studying in Bakersfield, Jim working in Napa
There was a bond from iphone to iphone
Did you see their adorable notes on facebook?
Tap, tap, tap, “I love ya foreva”
Tap, tap, tap, “In 13 hours I’ll pick you up
from the train station”─ 3 exclamation points, 4 hearts
Tap, tap, tap, kiss, kiss, kiss
Shoot a picture

Intangible ideas
That’s what I believe in
Fate and magic
There is a will that created this event
A spell swirling in a tropic-scented breeze
Intensified by exotic cocktails
And the gaze of a lover’s eyes
Love is a powerful emotion
No matter how sappy and sentimental it looks
I will shed tears by the end of this toast
Jim, I’m so happy for you
Whitney, welcome to our family

Today is August 20th, 2014
I offer this toast with my tears as a blessing
Congratulations! I love you both!
(My wedding toast at son, Jim's wedding in Mexico.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Couch Tale

Photo and design by David Toboni
I cannot look at my couch without smiling. That’s why I chose it for my office, certainly not because it’s an exact match for the paint or carpeting. Now, as the sunlight streams in through the seams of the white mini-blinds and a breeze dances the shadow of leaves from our Crepe Myrtle across its colorful fabric, I marvel at the fanciful design. Blue tulips, yellow daisies, and orange lilies bloom along a green vine against a backdrop of sandy brown.

 If I lie here I might fall asleep and dream I am sailing on my couch. Odd, but that’s how dreams are. Tulip blue, daisy yellow, and vine green sheets bellow in a swift breeze as surfers and boaters point at me and wave, or brandish their flags as I glide by.

“How do you like my boat?” I call. Sofa crafts are so comfortable. Why don’t I see more of them?

Out, out, out, I soar beyond the buoys; until I find myself in open waters, but I’m not afraid knowing my ship will keep me safe.

Dolphins, their bodies shimmering gray, crisscross my bow. “Where are we going?” I ask.

They answer telepathically, “Be patient. Let your imagination lead you.”

While I am eager to discover new vistas, I am happy to stay here adrift in pristine waters, the sun warming me, gulls wheeling in a brilliant sky, waves lapping, matching the rhythm of each breath. Am I dreaming or is this a meditative state? Om, om, om, I invite my muse to join me. “Send me a sign.”  

A great skipjack tuna leaps from the sea, and a cat appears. A cat at sea?  Another oddity?

No, it’s my cat, Sammy. She’s ready to reclaim her spot on the couch.  

This post was inspired by a writing exercise posted by Amber Starfire. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Other Curse Poem

photo by Jaroslaw Pocztarski

Hey all you migraine sufferers out there, let's get even!

Because you have plagued me

All of my life
And my mother before me
I wish you to  
Suffer your own migraine

I wish that your meds
Leave you feeling sappy, stupid, and sleepy
Or cause addiction
Better, I wish you to not take pills

But lie in a dark room sick
For days with a barking dog, a screeching child
And teenagers serenading
you with electric guitars and tambourines 

I wish for nausea
to surge through you and vomit nonstop
until you end up
in the emergency room at midnight

And the lights are too bright
Sirens too blaring
And everyone’s turn
is before yours

I wish you to attend parties that serve only
Red wine and aged cheese
And the hostess is insulted because you
Don’t eat and leave early

Migraine, because you have plagued me all my life
It’s your turn now

 Do you ever suffer from migraines? What therapies have you tried?

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Curse Poem

Now that my writing class is over (Writing Poetry to Say the Unsayable--Sheila Bender) I wanted to share one of my favorites. We had some fun writing the curse poem in class.    

Curse you Computer

And your microchips too

May they turn into nachos

Dripping with goo

Curse you computer

With your cursor a-blinking

May your data dissolve

As the hard drive stops thinking

Curse you computer

And your email box too

May you develop a virus

Most voracious to you

Curse you computer

And your functioning keys

I shall soak them in soda

And clog them with grease

Curse you computer

And your foul clicking mouse

May he move from the mouse pad

Right into your house

Curse you computer

You inhuman freak  

You stole my husband

And gave me a geek

To give some background, my husband has a computer business.
If you were to write a curse poem, what would be your curse? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Poems Coming Soon

photo by Chelsea Roberson
My poetry class has been interesting. Sheila Bender is a great teacher, I highly recommend if you're looking. It is so easy online. You never have to be embarrassed when you read out loud because no one can see or hear you!

Sheila's prompts have been educational and fun. We are working on Persona poems right now, which I like because you get to say what you want and write through the eyes of someone or something else. There's one assignment and two weeks of class left. I've produced about 5 poems, some need more revising.

I was planning to post one for my birthday tomorrow, but it needs more work, and I'll have more time to fix it next week. I will post it for you to see. If I keep waking up at 4 a.m. with ideas, I might post it sooner!

The way the class works is we turn in two poems a week and one revision. At first, I was thinking this is too much work. Usually, I don't write poetry that fast, but you'd be surprised what help a deadline can be. Especially if you are paying $$ for the class.

I'm in the class with 3 other students and we critique each other's work too, all gals, all terrific poets. Small class, great teacher, win, win! More next week.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nothing Ventured...

Ready for class.

Every now and then my writing seems to fall flat, and I start to look for ways to give it a zing. In the past, writing prompts have helped, but I am looking for a long term solution. When a writer friend recommended an online class I was, at first, hesitant. 
I know there are the usual concerns like cost and time, but when I looked at our budget I noticed much more frivolous spending going on. Education is not frivolous, and too, one can make time for something that is worthwhile, something that can improve one’s ability.
There is another concern that rattles me, fear. Fear of failure, or in the context of writing this fear equates to rejection, but rejection is a flimsy excuse for a writer. Unfortunately, I am all too familiar with negative response. Anxiety is more the issue here, and it’s aimed at the idea of an online class, something I haven’t done before.
Nothing ventured nothing gained, I tell myself, a cliché, but it’s true. It helps to think back to a conversation I had with my father. Dad loved driving and I often went for rides with him. On one such ride, he told me his thoughts about the word combination, have to. He said, “Barbara, do you know that in this world there is nothing that you have to do?” Since I was a young child at the time, my father did not include a discussion about having to die.
This have to idea seemed unbelievable to me. I proposed many examples to try and prove him wrong. “You have to go to work, to sleep, to eat, dress, brush your teeth, and etc…” Dad listened and suggested alternatives to each.
Finally, exasperated with his game, I said, “You have to go to school.”
He said, “No, you don’t. You can stay home and watch cartoons, or you can put off school till you are older if you want.”
Well that sounded ridiculous to me. “Do you mean like you? You’re too old for school,” I told him.  At around age 35, Dad seemed old to me.
Perhaps he laughed before answering. “You’re never too old to learn new things.”
My father valued education. Since he loved photography, he learned late in life how to develop and print his own photos. When we moved to Guam, he built a boat with a friend from work, but it didn't live up to his expectations. He either gave it away or he salvaged it. Dad was not afraid of failing. He seemed to enjoy the challenge.
I finished my traditional college degree when I was forty-nine. Now, a decade later, it’s time for another challenge. Thanks Dad.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

News in the New Year

Phone sketch photo by Dave Toboni
1.)  Third time is the charm! I won Honorable Mention awards for two poems in the 2013 Redwood Writers PoetryContest. This is a major accomplishment as it is the third time I’ve entered the competition since becoming a California Writers Club member. Most of the entrants are accomplished, published, poets so the talent quotient is high. The judges picked blind so they had no idea that both awards were going to be me. Click on Redwood Writers Contest above if you'd like to see who else won, and you can also read my winning poems by scrolling down to my bio and clicking on the titles.  

2.)   My book, Water Over Time, was published in 2013 and it is for sale on Amazon and locally at Copperfield’s, Napa Bookmine, and Jessel Gallery!
3.)  I'm going to have three additional poems published in a poetry anthology titled,  And The Beat Goes On. Catharine Bramkamp is the Editor, a fellow member of the Redwood Writers Club. The book will launch in April.
Also for anyone who is more interested in a literary reading than the Super Bowl there will be an OPEN MIC event organized by the California Writers Club-Napa at Napa Bookmine on February 2nd. from 3 to 5 p.m. Hubby usually escorts me to these events but not this time because of the Super Bowl. This will be the club's first reading at Napa Bookmine so I plan to be there and to read.

It feels good to focus on the positives. This is a great start to my new year.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

First Friday Fling

I recently went to an art show at Main Street Gallery in Lakeport. My friend, Elaine Lewis, the artist who illustrated my book cover for Water Over Time, invited me. She wanted me to bring a few books that I might sell. I was excited to see Elaine’s paintings and be part of the show. After pinning on a name tag and meeting two of the gallery’s organizers and a few of the artists, I sat down at a table to discuss my books. It was a lovely affair with live music and a wine tasting along with goodies to eat. I’m told they host these art and wine parties the first Friday of every month, called First Friday Fling.  
Elaine and I enjoyed hearing the positive feedback for both her paintings and my book cover. Hopefully you will have a chance to visit this gallery. There is something for everyone, watercolors, oils, pastels, pencil drawings, photography, and jewelry. Also on display: turned wood and metal sculpture. Very cool. And don’t forget to admire my books! They will be featured along with Elaine’s art through the month of January.
Elaine, Barbara, and Elaine's art

Many attendees