Friday, January 27, 2012

Carolina Au Revoir

jellyfish rockin'

I want to remember this glorious breeze blowing in my window from the west this afternoon. I am an appreciator of warm breezes, an admirer of songbirds, a devotee of blue skies and deep blue water. Speaking of which, we visited the Fort Fisher Aquarium (pics below and above) at the beach the other day to the home of one of only fifty albino alligators on the planet (so far). It was delightful. Museums of all stripes tend to take you back, make you feel like a kid, renew your ability to ooh and ah like a child.

fave used book store/coffee place downtown

I'm just soakin in the amazing, springlike weather, storing up for what I know will be a long, cold few months up north come next week. Sad to say bye to friends here, everyone (except the horrid mechanics at Performance Auto), not to mention the banana blossom salad at Indochine. Enjoyed that little gem at lunch today at probably the most popular resto in this town with my fave pal J.

So farewell, for now. We ( the editorial usage) head off to the woods to write, hopefully to see something come of that, to a place with no distractions, I mean pas du tout! Along a river with a yellow lab for company. I seem to have picked up an adorable kitty along the way as well.

Sometimes a little rigor is just the ticket. Sounds good. Cold ... but good. Farewell, Carolina. I will miss your kind people, their stories, always stories, and warm breezes. The pink magnolias are just now blooming everywhere. Cascades of them.

Life is good. Like Dinah Washington once crooned, What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours.......

lost no more.... Litta Bit, her name, and she doesn't usually look so mean....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Camellias are blooming everywhere...

This time of year I spend a lot of time missing my late sister. A real Card if there ever was one and a wit as dry as Virginia Ham. And my dad. Both their birthdays fall in January. I miss them more as the years pass, not less. Too little time is life.

For today at least Spring has rested her tender warm breast on the coast of Carolina. I realize I won't be here for the real thing in March, so decided to venture out for a long stroll, the first exercise I've had in days, wending my way through the neighborhood streets to the grassy path that follows the Burnt Mill Creek Watershed, heading north past the cemeteries, imagining a life in gracious homes with multiple porches and swings, the picture of southern leisure. I am forever gazing at them longingly, enviously, as they speak of security, a sense of confidence in the future – even in so much as the following afternoon – I seem to lack at times.

A few daffodils, a lone pink hyacinth and a young forsythia making exploratory efforts into the warm breeze. Rosemary everywhere, offering weak branches of lavender fleurettes. I love the little whirlwinds spinning through the streets, showing off in perfect circle patterns as they sweep up swirls of leaves into baby hurricanes, a reminder of the larger version to come in May.

An abandoned bird's nest sits high among the bare branches of a crape myrtle. (I am deeply covetous of birds' nests. I possess a small but telling collection packed away somewhere in a frozen storage facility up North.) This one brings to mind a first visit years ago to the lair of a now deceased friend. The first thing you saw entering his massive domicile, an old cannery in the wilds of Maine, was a walled collection of bird nests. There were nests of every variety, dozens of them, stacked maybe seven feet high, five feet or more across. Each nest had been tucked in a bed of straw, the straw laid in its own, authentically old, turned- sideways wooden crate (undoubtedly specially gathered for this purpose.) These were stacked precisely, corner to corner meeting perfectly, one on top of another to form a wall. Methodically. The man's forte was Method, perfect method. With an eye to perfect Order.

Looking more closely you could see each nest was neatly tagged – it's location and date of discovery noted on an antique paper luggage tag, typed on an old typewriter, as though to preserve not only things but a way of doing things, the proper way, with standards, one might say.

It took hours to tour his "home". The bird nest collection was just a greeting, a hint of things to come. The vast caverns housing his various collections seemed unending: giant wood beams, door handles, latches, old doors all organized by size or style or use: mirrors, kitchenware, windows, chairs, sheet metal, copper, tools of every possible variety, axes, hammers, pliers, screws, nuts, bolts, nails, rivets in enormous scavenged steel bins, typewriters, anything mechanical you can imagine, drill presses, power tools, thousands and thousands of things, all categorized and stored accordingly. You could have built and outfitted a three masted schooner and a modern battleship and a house with the contents of his barns. It was fascinating and exhausting just touring the place. I can't imagine the committed energy it took to organize it all so well. The entire ridge of the center "barn" supported a long line of old lawn mowers, "to keep the birds off".

He was easily Most Well-Organized Hoarder of the Century. One can't help but be astounded in the presence of such obsessive possession and hyper-organization. Because most people who hoard things do so out of fear and greed; they guzzle and forget, and don't manage their things very well, do they? But this man wanted to and did care for the things "society" had cast off. He treated them respectfully, his "finds". Few people ever saw his collection. In other circumstances, when such hoarding is enforced and financed, we call such people museum curators. And he was, in his way; there was love and magic and beauty in what he'd accomplished. But to what end? On the other hand, why not?

He was, by trade, a welder, a sculptor, and a perfectionist. Perhaps the nature of such a man is a tightly wound tendency to hoard and preserve things in case they're needed. Practical, that is. And we all have our little keepsakes, reminders of what was in our lives. But one caught the spirit there of a past he imagined was better than the present, a common emotion today. Folks like Ralph Lauren have made a fortune capitalizing on this particular malaise. Yet you have to wonder if, when this thinking becomes obsessive, it isn't an admission of defeat before you're even out of the gate, a surrender, a refusal to be fully alive in the present, to imagine a desirable future.

He very rarely sold things. His goal seemed to be simply accumulating and preserving things from a past that no longer existed in the event they might be ignored, or needed, (though I don't know he ever made plans along those lines). Perhaps his intention was to imagine and reconstruct a different past for himself by living among what were discarded bits of other people's lives.

But it's the memory of those nesting boxes that came to me today, the first "statement" made when you entered his home. A warning to visitors, like Dante's "Abandon hope...". The message? I am a tender bird. With a deep desire to be cared for, to be loved, to be able to love in return, like he did the nests, displaying them so lovingly. As if to say, "this is all I really want, to find this, a safe nest. This is what I need someone to do for me. "

Alas, all those things, however well-ordered, did not a safe nest make. In the end, despite his efforts at a tidy life among literally millions of everso orderly things, and despite his deep yearning otherwise, he drowned in his own perfectionism and unmet expectations, perhaps trapped by misguided intentions, or vicious voices from an inescapable past, or maybe he just felt unappreciated. He wouldn't be the first blazingly creative soul to feel that. Unable to find or recognize the love he sought, he blew his brains out.

I remember he once asked me how I could manage to carry on every day in the face of life's disappointments. I replied that I was just so damn curious about what life had in store, what was around the next corner, whatever might enchant me next. There was always something. He looked at me dolefully, like I was mad, or he was. At any rate, baffled that I could see life this way. A new spring could not rouse his spirit. He'd lost the ability to be delighted or encouraged by something as small as a weak pink hyacinth braving January's wind. It broke my heart.

Today the springlike weather and the memory of that moment remind me of something I heard. "There are no bad decisions. There are only choices we make and what we then do with the results." It's the fact of those choices and the power we have to make them that eludes us.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Vincent Browne v The ECB

We need journalists like this man. It's odd how the European press is more likely to confront boolsheet answers by politicians and bankers than our own "free press". I expect just being able to get in the room is a plus. Watch this guy go after the ECB for an explanation as to why the Irish people should be forced to assume the debt of an already defunct bank for "the sake of the financial stability of the country", or some such nonsense.

Public debt and corporate welfare drives private profits. When will it stop? Not until we stop cooperating with the scam. Each in our own wee way.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ship of State: Too Big to Sail?

The mainstream media likes to diss the Occupy movement's efforts to rally the population to the cause of financial reform, to steer the ship of state away from the reefs of financial greed and corruption. Oddly enough, polls tell us that a majority of Americans feel some degree of sympathy (guilt?) for the movement, albeit while remaining comfortably settled in their well-padded couches, remote in hand for when the press of every individual's culpability gets to be too much.

But one economist's clear-eyed analysis of the reason financial problems facing the global (and our) economy have not found, and likely will not find, resolution contends that it's our fault, that democracy is a two-sided coin, and without a well-organized public outcry, the majority of citizens stand to lose the coin toss. He writes:

"While democracy may, according to Olson contain the seeds of economic decline, it seems that democracy itself is currently under threat, with powerful interests capturing governments and shaping policy-making in most of the world’s rich nations.

More troubling still, the legacy we are collectively creating is a very dangerous one. It is a legacy of immense instability and systemic risk: the risk of hugely disruptive climate change; the risk of deep financial instability with potentially disastrous effects on the real economy; finally, the risk of nuclear catastrophe.

The supply of key “public goods” – containment of climate change, financial stability, and nuclear security – is being undermined by a failure of collective action on an unprecedented scale. One of the most troubling aspects of this situation is that the required international policy cooperation – or the appropriate domestic policy responses – to address the complex but immensely important question of the provision of these global public goods seems more elusive than ever.

The paradox is that the more international cooperation and domestic policy responses are needed, the more elusive they become. The drama of Europe’s crisis and European elites’ woefully inadequate policy response to the crisis over the past two years are a case in point of the extreme fragility and deep contradictions of the West’s societal mode of organization.

Thus, far more than an economic crisis, what may be happening to the West in the wake of its post-industrial, financial revolution is something much more profound – the gradual realization, in its collective psyche, that it is on course to suffer the consequences of one the biggest collective action failures in history."

While comedians like Stewart and Colbert keep us laughing at the absurdity of it all, and we're grateful for the laughs, it's no laughing matter. We can, none of us, call ourselves true citizens of a democracy if we're not willing to, at the very least, make the conscious choice to stop participating in the mass co-optation of our free labor (explained here, and a real eye opener), without which the whole corrupt system would fail. For example, I never thought of spending time on youtube as a consumer activity because it's "free", no? – although I had a sneaking suspicion it was somehow exploitative of what could be my productive time, a greater benefit to me, perhaps to society–but now I see that seemingly innocent activity is anything but. It's a subtle form of complicity in my own disenfranchisement. Again, choices we don't want to make because it's fun, like getting high was fun. It's all so insidious, isn't it? The author explains further:

"But although a bifurcation [lord - serf/vassal] is occurring in jobs, the opposite is occurring in consumption. Granted those on the lower rungs spend more of their income on the consumption ofreal goods than do those on the top rungs. And the share of income on goods that by nature are in limited supply, like land, wine and art, even social status, is obviously greater for the top rungs than for the lower. But for both, consumption is increasingly oriented toward virtual goods– consuming YouTube videos, tweets and social networks, games and reality TV shows. These take little in terms of labor – or for that matter, capital – to produce. And the labor that is required is largely supplied by us as the consumers. Another instance of outsourcing."

(My bolds and italics)

This guy's explanation on the true nature of outsourcing today is a revelation.

"Though we are not as unemployed as we might think. We just are not being paid for our work. Much of what we enjoy from our technological progress is a new sort of outsourcing. How much time do you spend on things that are made easier and that you now do for yourself with the help of computers?

The jobs are moving from the producer to the consumer side of the ledger. And some of that work comes as the guise of entertainment. How much of your work is being done as you do your e-mails and surf the web, keep yourselves busy with your apps as you commute to work? So it is not only that computers are replacing workers, they are turning consumers into unpaid workers."

Here's a little ditty that affirms the essence of the Occupy zeitgeist,

"Even Gangster countries have better income distribution than the United States."
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Reagan administration

And the video below captures the mood in song rather nicely as well.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Yet another News flash!

Life is getting harder for Americans. (NYT)

"Seriously?" asks Coco. "My investments are lookin pretty good!"

(Apologies to my favorite canine pal.) If you haven't seen the article in today's NY Times, "It's Getting Harder for Americans to Rise" to a Decent Standard of Living, well, cast off that pall of cognitive dissonance, go on over there and be prepared to witness the obvious substantiated with recent facts and studies, including the likes of this posted at National Review.

Well, Duh, is all most of us can say.

And you "Haves"? Well, I think ya'll should just ignore this post cause you've heard it before and it just doesn't register with you. Too snug in your smug sense that you are somehow more worthy (oooo, I just despise me those neo-Calvinists, I do!) of the largesse with which "fate" has somehow blessed you. Certainly more than that guy or gal who's asking for help. Oh, go on, give 'er a little check. Think of it as a form of tithing for the non-religious. Keeps you in good with Kharma and all that.

There now, give yourself a nice pat on the back. As you jet off to somewhere warm and sunny.

Here's what I wrote in the comments section of that article today, and I'm proud to say so far, reading down the comments, there are several people who agree with me. And if I may toot the horn for one sec, I'm flattered to be one of (so far) a dozen (of about 350) comments listed in "NYTPicks". I do have my differences with that paper, but gee, let this little hick enjoy the moment.

"Other countries cited in this study have similar fiscal problems to those of the US, but visit Canada or the EU for any length of time, get to know the people a little, and you'll find a much happier populace of ordinary folks than we have here. Free health care is a much bigger part of this mix than the Republican party wants americans to realize. And anyone who doesn't blame this on that Party's Rino purge since Reagan, which destabilized Congress irremediably, is practicing the same willful , dreamy- eyed ignorance that got us in this mess. Republicans have always been the party of the Haves, the core of whose political philosophy was "conserving" their wealth for themselves and theirs. Reagan, Newt, the FOX propaganda machine convinced us that greed was good, a radical swing of the pendulum from the egalitarian zeitgeist of the 60s. Once the political center shifted to what was once the far right, we were gonners, as policies supporting that position became law and the fleecing of America's Treasury was the end result.

Why everyone isn't organizing a national strike is unfathomable. Our middle eastern fellow planet citizens have put us all to shame. But that's because they're fed up, and aren't worried about ruining their FICO scores if they go against the man.

It's only going to get worse, and everyone knows it. the corporatization of our government has gone that deep.

And I'm considered a glass half full kinda gal."

Some other comments I liked:

"Here in America, one learns to live like a rat in a maze subject to random shocks."

As John Stewart would say: BOOM! I particularly liked the next one as it most certainly aligned with my understanding of the several white men I know who fit the description (see yesterday's blog).

"What's difficult for conservative, white men to understand is the emotional, psychological, and spiritual oppression of poverty and hopelessness that makes it very hard for people to keep plugging away despite monumental odds against them."

This is true. It's a little like Louis C.K.'s spoiled white boy rant: whining because you have a LOT, but you don't have enough and it's isn't perfect. Spoiled, whiny white boys. Somehow, though your life has been a selfish, easy one, you deserve more, you can't possibly be more generous with the guy who has nothing! His "nothingness" is scary! Christ, that could be me if I give you too much! The myth being that, witness the Wall Streeters, Congress, and my friendless Have former friends, it's never enough. You'll always be afraid, because you live in fear rather than love for those who love you and faith in the future. You got to invest your energy and time and love in a better future for everyone in order to create one.

Here are some more astute commenters from the Times:

"Until conservative men get their egos out of the way and recognize just how limited their life experiences and perspectives are, and just how narcissistic they are being when patting themselves on the back, we'll continue to see positively silly spin coming out of the conservative think tanks and ridiculous pronouncements like the governor of Iowa's insistence that internet access creates critical thinking skills!"

Make no mistake about it. The men I'm referring to think of themselves as liberals, possibly even progressives! They "contributed" to Obama! They try to help out! (Meaning they write occasional checks, which for them is like donning an anodyne necklace against the nagging conscience that threatens to expose the myth of their deservedness.) Such is the nature of self-flattery, of rigid denial that your greatest fear is that you'll actually have to share what you have with anyone who actually needs it. For God's sake! The needy (anyone whose survival is at risk, most people these days) are scary! Who knows when they'll stop asking? And anyway, aren't they really just lazy? Why didn't God bless them with what I've got? (Not earned, got. This followed by an hysterical rant about how scary life is for the marginally wealthy.)

I forget who wrote this list of remedies for the country's dilemma, but it's a good one. (Probably found it on Zero Hedge comments or somewhere) Check it out, then let's organize a national strike, as someone in Harper's magazine suggested years ago, I think it was before the Nov. 06 elections. It's our only source of power, that and just stop buying stuff that isn't absolutely essential to survival.

Here's the guy's list of remedies. Remember he's a financial guy, but that's where the giant enema needs to be placed first.

"1) CFTC enforcing position limits.

2) SEC fining abusive companies like CITI when they repeatedly commit blatant fraud.

3) Curtail revolving door jobs between government regulators and the industries they regulate.

4) Re-institute Glass-Steagall

5) Forbid banks from evading US regulatory controls via subsidiaries in other countries; penalty: no business in the US.

6) Remove "felonies" as penalties for failure to follow administrative rulings, and add require knowledge the party intended to break the law (versus catching you in a regulatory trap where interpretation is up to a bureaucrat).

7) Forbid the Federal reserve or federal government from bailing out investment banks. Eliminate moral hazard and eliminate monopolistic entities in banking.

8) Stop Congress or legislative bodies from using "insider" information to trade.

9) Automatic recusal of regulators and bankruptcy trustees with conflicts of interest.

10) Pass legislation that requires the losing party to pay attorney fees. That'd severely pinch the ability to mis-use the court system.

11) Create an appeals process from Administrative rulings that allow US citizens the right to appeal decisions into state or federal court.

12) Limit the amount of money printing the FED can do to a % of currency outstanding, and limit FED purchases of US debt to a threshhold at a % of budget. This would force politicos to actually figure out if they can finance their over-spending without FED support.

13) Institute corporate bonus structure for key executives that requires vesting of a portion of their bonus into the future. Half up-front, remainder payable over 3 additional years tied to company performance. (Creates long-term incentives and supports rape-and-flip management).

14) Eliminate collective bargaining for all public employess except for salaries.

15) Require "signoff" by Congress/Senate, by bill section, indicating they read those sections of the bill, and require 'bill genesis' to indicate which party added specific language into the bill's history. Eliminate "voice vote" to force accountability for legislation.

16) Force congress to oversee administrative agencies, and an omsbudsman process to report administrative abuse which would be a matter of public record.

17) Forbid "law enforcement" activities that include use of firearms by non-law enforcement agencies like: IRS, EPA, Forest Service, BLM, etc. Law enforcement must be present if law-enforcement activities are required.

18) Require Congress to cite the Constitutional grounds or Supreme Court rulings for legislation it passes.

How's that for some appetizers?

Freedom baby. It's yours to defend."

What do you say we let that guy run things for awhile? A benevolent monarch, term limited. He seems to have 20/20 vision. At minimum, the guy can see, if only with one eye. "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

And as a reminder that people really are still good, by and large (though not Haves for the most part, with exceptions) check this out, the Nicest Place on the Internet. It was swell of whoever put this together; we can all use a little hug. (Except those meanies who think hugs breed cooties. They prefer the kiss/kiss, no touchy thing... Cooties and all.)

Tata for now, spread the love

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

new year's grim

2011 + 1 = 2012
That's about as much insight as I can muster on this first genuinely cold, windy mornin in coastal Carolina. The wind is dying now, but just before dawn it was blowing a gale there for awhile . That brisk wind doesn't go wasted; there are about a million chimes hanging in the vicinity, and when the breeze gets going you'd swear you were high in the Himalayas in some Lhasan temple - very relaxing in a quietly orchestral kind of way.

It's freezing out by Carolina standards - 32.5 degrees. But the sky is blue and it promises to "warm" into the low 40s later on. That’s spring weather in Maine, and the camellias here are in bloom. Still, cold enough to wear the barn coat. I'd like to say I'm happy with what's on offer so far from the gods of 2012, but no. It's the headlines; they never seem to change. Day after day I avoid reading the news because every other headline screams some utter foolishness, demanding attention to whatever the Republican coterie of fools is up to next. It's enough to make you slam the laptop shut before you even get past your homepage. And today, the first day of Iowa's self-important carnival, the headlines tout Newt's (really? a Pres called Newt? How was this man not born obsessed with the size of his pecker? or was he? poor thing) quick rise and fall on the heels of third party PAC ads. It occurs to me these wild vacillations in the preferences of Republican voters say more about the childishly irresponsible schizo volatility of those voters than either the candidates or their campaigns. Am I wrong?
To carry on with the Disappointing Start to the New Year theme: On a personal note, having a bunch of nincompoop sexist mechanics (you'd think I'd have the sharpest radar on the planet after having married one, mais non) ruin your transmission and cost you several grand, having to tow the car to a competent mechanic AFTER you've paid the nincompoops a small fortune, an issue which you must now hire a lawyer to contest; having one of my kids' car window smashed in by city thugs, another kid lose her job at the hands of a pompous, psychotic boss, and yet another family member who's working two jobs treated like a slave at one job (non-union min wage of course) and running a risk of serious illness if she carries on at the other; having no work myself (December was clearly just a flash in the pan workwise) and not the faintest clue what to do next in this willfully crap economy – well, I'm a little drained before the year even gets going. At Christmas we all agreed this was going to be the year whose theme would be "Everything's Gonna Be Fine!" if we all just did what needing doing, tried to find joy in that, and put our shoulders to the wheel, however corrupt the slave masters. Well, so far ... not.

Reading some of my old posts from the states, I discovered the joie de vivre started leaking out of my joy balloon sometime early last year; they seemed to lack a certain something. I lack a certain joie that infused me across the pond, something missing that once fed my soul. The holidays were lovely, spent with my wonderful kids and friends, all of us very grateful to have each other, to be together, we had some welcome roaring fires on chilly nights – proof I'm good for something, if nothing else than a reliable fire (true to Carlotta's adage that A good fire is the best friend you'll ever have, implying every woman should be able to build one). Yet I can't help but think maybe it's being here, in the US of A. So depressing these days, an undercurrent of fear everywhere, the hint of incipient madness. Moments of pleasure and gratitude, yes, but WTF?

Where's the joie? The optimism that accompanies a new year ? Is the idea of a fresh start just another lie we tell ourselves? Millions of broken annual weight loss vows certainly attest to that likelihood.

Reading my old blog posts it's obvious that I'm happiest when traveling and writing, but one needs a wee home to return to, ones cherished things about, treasured possessions left after the last purge/house sale (now stacked miserably abandoned in cold storage) and a purpose to ones day beyond selfish interest. (Are all interests selfish?) And in these uneasy, even frightening, times, not being able to provide a safe haven, a place for struggling family members to regroup is pure angst for a mother. Torture.
Yet I watch in stunned amazement a handful of folks I've called 'friend' for a goodly portion of my life, folks who've availed themselves of the easy respite of returning home periodically (or for lazy summers) to momma's house all their lives, not to mention continuous financial support when needed, exhibit willful blindness toward what it is to be without such security – spoiled feckers, aren't they? As aging adults they parade a carefully apportioned noblesse oblige when socially convenient, but their actions reveal them to be died in the wool Me-Firsters when the chips are down and serious help or compassion is required by those less fortunate. The widening emotional disconnect between people I thought of as like-minded friends and the Have Nots is shocking. They seem utterly impervious to real suffering, to the fear for basic survival of those less fortunate because, despite their whining about their riches not being enough, they've never really known what it was to have to survive on their own, never. Mum and dad were always there to catch their falls, dust them off, and hand them a check. With my own eyes I've seen them wield their privilege, power and security as a bludgeon to verbally shame vulnerable Have- Nots to their faces, to emotionally beat them down for not being a Have. What's the old expression? "Chastising those on time for those who are tardy."

Southern church hat ladies lark about -

An example:
What kind of person fires a loyal, good hearted employee without warning or discussion the week before Christmas ( having conspired to do this for months), then tries to gyp them out of severance pay before jetting off to Switzerland with his family for a nice Christmas leaving the fired employee to borrow money to drive an old crap car a thousand miles, flat broke, to find her way to her own family? How cold hearted is that? Another wolf in sheep’s clothing who yet sees himself as a bonafide member of the "nice guy club". The Haves sense things are "inconvenient" for workers, but still believe it's a 'bootstraps up' issue for the Have- Nots. Seriously, this burns my tush when I see it in folks once claiming to be my friends.

Lament winding down now... as I reflect that...
I was quite happy this Advent: purposeful, busy, optimistic, working hard, making a little scratch. Grateful that, in years past, like Chrissy Hynde, I have enjoyed the Sense of Purpose you find fervently loving someone, hopeful that would renew itself. But that turned out to be some fantasy I carried on believing could be refreshed way past the sell- by date. AND this has happened to me more than once! Is it a character fault or to my credit that my faith is so staunch and renewable? (I would have made a helluva sea captain: always willing to go down with a sinking ship.)
Probably best to view this as a 'readjustment ' period, wherein, like those bottom weighted inflatable punching bag figures I once got the kids for Christmas, I allow myself time to boiiiing slowly back to an upright position as I recover from yet another punch to the kisser at the hands of brutal truth. They say what doesn't kill you makes you strong. Maybe. But it can also make you bitter – or wiser, depending on your level of commitment to self-awareness. (Some of the most chipper people I meet turn out to be the most bitter underneath it all.) It's that part I'm trying to find; a beacon in the fog that will show me what's next.

(Oh ironic treasure – gratitude for the ones you'd die for)

As I slide into 2012, I could feel broke and disheartened by the price one pays for silencing one's own instincts. But am grateful for friends like the one who reminded me recently, there are people all over the world who love me and whom I love. And that is truly something.

Carrying on with the bright side, I was given Bill Clinton's book on Giving for Christmas. It's next on my list of things to read. But my favorite Christmas read was Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog, from a fellow Martha Grimes fan. Wow, what a great read. That gal can write! Wit, no nonsense humor, and a damn good mystery to boot. Move over Martha! I'm scouring the used bookstores for more of Kate's books. And I found several for a mere $3.95 no shipping cost at
Another sweet gift of the season: a local radio DJ decided to have a Tracy Nelson evening for her birthday. Tracy from Mother Earth!? I loved her! (from the album Mother Earth on iTunes) It sounded great! We used to do that tune with my old band in AZ. Hadn't heard it in years (how do we lose these wonderful things?), and it rocked my soul in a way nothin but the blues can do. Sent me off on a two day mental blues jag (including plenty of Paul Butterfield) that lifted me up and there were three gals cruising around Wilmington cranking Tracy on the iPod and singin at the top of our lungs on Christmas. (You do what you gotta do to carry on.) And with a message that never gets old, here's what Tracy had to say to the Haves.
"Well, you can high-hat me all the time
and you may never come my way
Mother Earth is waitin for you
There's a debt you got to pay.
I don't care how rich you are
I don't care what you're worth
When it all comes down
you got to go back to Mother Earth"
[The girl can saang! hey! Turn it up. Butterfield next: Everything’s Gonna Be Alright , live version. God, I feel better already...]
May all your troubles be little ones this year, and love fill all your empty places.