Sunday, September 30, 2007

"In Defense of Selfishness" & other 2nd-place speeches

Last week, when I bought the toaster, I also bought a little coffeemaker, the four-cup size. Not only that, but also this truly nifty ground coffee dispenser. You squeeze a button on the handle & it dispenses exactly a tablespoon--kachung--in the basket of your coffeemaker. It isn't picky though, & would dispense coffee on your floor or in your bathtub or wherever else you decided to squeeze the handle. So far I have opted for the basket of my coffeemaker.

I just walked back from Malaprop's. Yet another reading/signing. This was Bud Harris, a Jungian analyst who has several books published. The newest is The Fire and the Rose, about spirituality & sexuality. I bought that & another called Sacred Selfishness. I gave a speech at a Toastmaster's speech contest once called "In Defense of Selfishness." It was perfect; I got second place, which meant a nice little plaque (I use it for a coaster now) & no need to practice the speech again & go on the next contest.

I told my friend Cathy this, when she was about to participate in her first speech contest. Unlike me, she joined Toastmasters because she was already good at public speaking & enjoyed it & wanted to further develop her talents. I joined because my voice shook in front of the best audience in the world: 3rd graders. Anyway, I improved enough to get at least second place in a speech contest. The morning after Cathy's contest she called to tell me her results. "Did you get a coaster?" I asked. She replied that it's hard to set a cup of coffee on a trophy. She won! Yay Cathy.

She & I both spent more time Getting Things Done today. I threw out some old index cards from 1987 & such that showed where various (mostly not-so-very-good) stories & poems had been rejected. I did keep the ones (a nice stack, if I do say so myself) that showed acceptances.

Okay, so more Things to Get Done.

Remember, I'm only blogging to get my numbers up. Grin. Tomorrow I can start with the sheer joy of blogging again.

Blog Alternative:
85. Be selfish. Think of something that you want to do. You. Not someone else. Want. Not ought to or should. Want. Then do it!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'll have baloney toast--hold the marshmallow creme

okay, I confess.

I am writing this blog tonight for other than the sheer love of blogging.

I want to reverse the slow, steady decline of posts-per-month, or ppm, as we fondly call them.

April ppm 18
May ppm 15
June & July ppm 9
August ppm 7

Currently the September ppm stands at 5, & only by posting today & tomorrow (30 days hath September, after all) will I be able to tie with August. October is my big chance to get my numbers back up. You hear--all you who have been predicting the demise of Winter in Asheville! (umm, you out there, you naysayers?)

Anyway, you don't have to read this, since it's strictly an exercise in getting one more post out there.

I worked on Getting Things Done today. Wrote a letter to my friend Maxine. I know, Bill, you're screaming, if only silently, Maxine? Who have you been owing a letter to for, oh, eons? My name's not Maxine. I know, Bill. But you are not 92, as is Maxine, so she got her letter first. Is it any consolation to know that I then put pen to paper on your behalf & your letter almost exists. Perhaps I should say partially exists instead. Anyway, it has been begun. (Now there's some messed up time sense in that last sentence...) You'll have to forgive me for writing a boringly normal letter, but I still have all that sand from Nags Head, so you could be in peril yet.

I ate supper at the Grove Park Inn, at one of the more moderately priced restaurants, the Blue Ridge Dining Room. The Grove Park Inn is a VERY swanky hotel, so more moderately priced does not mean moderately priced. I had an appetizer & iced tea & it was over $20. It was super delish--shrimp & grits with gravy. Ummm. Watched the sun set behind the mountains. Or, to be more astronomically correct: watched the mountains rise to obscure the sun. Grin.

To continue with a food report: For breakfast I had toast & peanut butter. For lunch I had toast & cheese. Did I mention I bought a toaster this week? Toasters toast so much better than combination microwave/broiler/ovens do. I guess that's why they call them toasters.

Okay, I think this counts as a post.

See you tomorrow.

Blog alternative:
I mean
84. Toast something. Bread or a waffle or a bagel or an English muffin. Then put something on it. Butter or peanut butter or cheese or cream cheese or jelly or marshmallow creme or some combination of the above. Or something entirely different. Baloney is good. That really thin deli ham. (For the record, I am NOT recommending baloney & marshmallow creme as a combo...)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Capricious free range wi-fi & a preschooler from Milwaukee

Yesterday I had a painting partner at a coffee shop in Hendersonville. I was going to go for a walk but it was a little warm (meaning upper 80s!) so I decided to coffee shop it instead. Had to put on long sleeves to survive the airconditioning. Go figure.

So I was there, trying out my new cute watercolor set. A young family from Milwaukee was hanging out & I invited the biggest little girl--3 years old--to join me, telling her parents that yes, I knew she might mess the paints up a little & no, it didn't matter if she mushed the brush down on the paper, because I'd bought those brushes to share. Her name was Ciara (pronounced keara) which I thought was interesting because a thousand years ago on the school bus to & from Absarokee High in Montana (30 miles one way)
my friend Kathy & I had an elaborate fantasy where she was Diana Elizabeth Carringon Courtland & I was Ciara (pronounced sierra) Marie Saint-James. We spent a lot of time talking about our time on the French Riviera. Anyway, Ciara (no matter how you pronounce it) & I had fun painting, even after the owner turned the lights off over our table. He wasn't trying to get rid of us--it was just that they were playing a skateboarding movie on the TV. So I soaked up a little teen culture as well, while I painted in the semi-dark...

Now it's bed time. Goodnight everyone. Or good morning or afternoon if that's when you're reading this. Happy insomnia? Merry coffee break? Grin.

(Okay, so I'm writing this at bedtime, but the free range organic wi-fi that has been blithely dancing through my apartment has decided to high-tail it to other airspace, so I'll have to post the blog tomorrow sometime, further lending confusion to time specific good wishes. Plus it could capriciously decide to return before I "hang up" & I might post it tonight after all....)

Blog alternative:
83. Read random paragraphs in 3 different books & see what--if any--connections you can make. (If a resulting idea makes you a million dollars, think fondly of me. Grin again.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Is your refrigerator running? by Prince Albert

I don't have a calendar.

I toyed with the idea of getting one when I started Getting Things Done, but decided no. After all, I have a refrigerator. Why would I need a calendar? I write what I need to do, along with day & date & time, on a pink, heart-shaped sticky note & put it on the front of the fridge. My cell phone & my computer tell me what day it is, if I choose to notice. Most of what I do is not very time specific, so I don't have to notice all that often. But if I have an appointment for acupuncture (& if you live in or near Asheville, North Carolina, & want to try it out, I cannot recommend Eli at Mystic Journeys highly enough!) or a haircut (ditto with Casey at Dang Salon) there's my little heartfelt (& shaped) reminder.

It's a good system, fairly recently adopted. I was reminded of this yesterday, when I had my replacement haircut. I lost the little card that told me when my haircut was scheduled, & missed it & had to reschedule. With the new system in place, I was there at Dang, with the dashing cape around my shoulders, ready to be shampooed, when another woman came in, thinking she had Thursday at 11. She'd miswritten her appointment & had actually just missed her 10 o'clock. Casey asked if she could come back at 7 & she regretfully said no, she couldn't. So I offered to give her my time & come back later myself. (Ah, the benefits of a flexible schedule, that you can offer this largesse occasionally.) She was extremely grateful.

I'll see her again before the end of the weekend, because she goes to Florida & buys clothing at the thrift stores that the rich folk utilize & sells it from her home here in Asheville. Everything $10. Except one item for $5, for me, for gifting her with my haircut time....

So I went back to Casey at 7 & got my haircut. Scheduled the next one & wrote it down in a notebook. As soon as I'm done posting this, I'll transpose it to a pink sticky-heart & put it on the fridge. I told Casey about my calendarless-system & she said she used a planner that she never had with her when she needed it. I told her I always knew where my refrigerator was, & if somehow I misplaced it I'd have bigger problems than missing out on a few scheduled items. She said, yeah, she did know where her fridge was.

I've just started a new fun--& exceedingly valuable--thing: cutting pictures & words out of magazines & such & gluing them in my new journal. I'm pasting things in from the back & writing things in from the front & I've marked the middle with (I know, I'm predictable) pink heart-shaped sticky notes. The visual collage of things I like--home-wise, nature, arts&creativity, stuff (new digital camera, for example)--has already stirred up my heart. (Again with the heart, you say!)

Recently finished book: The Mind & the Brain (Schwartz & Begley) (Go, Nerd Book Club, Go!)
Really interesting & well-written, even though they go into pretty excruciating detail on lots of psychology experiments. Neurophysiology & psychology & philosophy & Buddhism & quantum physics--all the good stuff. Now I have at least some understanding of quantum superposition & the physics behind why thoughts become things & the power of deliberate intention.

Blog alternative:
82: Thumb through a magazine or catalog & cut out a couple things that attract you. Glue them into a notebook or on a poster or at least stick them on the fridge with a magnet. (One man's calendar is another man's dream journal.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hidden messages & Very Favorite Beans

In my dream, there were all these neighborhood dogs coming into my house, which I then had to let out so they could go home. It turned out there was an underground passage that I couldn't close off. Weird. No, I am NOT thinking of getting a dog.

Still thinking about getting a house. Stuff percolating that has required some sleuthing. Something may or may not come out of it in terms of physical real estate, but my mental & spiritual real estate has already expanded just in the learning process, so I consider all the steps part of a WIN WIN WIN (& on & on) process.

I'm sitting in a coffee shop. (What a surprise, I know.) This morning I was really tired & slept in--hence the dog dream--& after I got up was trying to figure out what to do. Started a pot of Very Favorite Beans (navy bean & ham soup, for those not in the know) & then tried to figure out what got me excited in the way of projects. I'm still emptying the In box in the Getting Things Done process, but I didn't want to just jump into that. So I started a painting: spread some gesso over an old painting. In the wet gesso I wrote--one big letter at a time--I used to believe in lack & limitation, but no more. Now I know affluence & joy & love. Then I signed my name, again a letter at a time, & sorta smoothed over it with a palette knife. So, to those not in the know, it looks like a textured white background, but you know that there's a powerful message on that canvas already, before any line or shape or color has been applied!

Then, because gesso must dry, I got to work on the organizing a bit. I put old notebooks in these boxes I bought at Staples. Read a few pages in one that was open, which turned out to be my very first notebook from college, 30 years ago, almost to the week. Fascinating to see what was going on in my little 18-yr-old head & heart. One thing I mentioned was that I missed my little brother Mikol (almost 11 years younger than I am) so I took the opportunity to call him & visit for a few minutes. I told him he & the family would have to come see me some time & he agreed, in a general sort of way. Then I told him I was making Very Favorite Beans & he said, "I'm hopping on the next plane. They should be done when I get there!" He's too busy to mean that, but there's a big power in those old shared comfort foods. If I could have wafted the smell to him as well, he might well be here by now...

Time to meditate & drink my coffee & walk home. The gesso should be dry now. Who knows what the painting will be.

Blog Alternative:
81. Cook (or assemble, if it's something like celery with peanut butter) an old favorite comfort food.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I see a red couch, & a trip to a bookstore

been too busy
Getting Things Done
to blog.

you should see my living room,
which has been transformed into a giant "inbox"
(no you shouldn't, on second thought)

but, I have been going through things
relatively expeditiously
& it's been fun!

just went back to Staples for my second box of manila folders.

also heard Diana Gabaldon & went to an opening at the Haen Gallery, where I got to meet the fabulous G. C. Myers. I owned 2 of his paintings. Took them in to get them personalized & the little painting began shopping for a brother. So now I own 3....

Went to a party at a friend's house & decided not to have a bad memory for names. I pretty much easily & quickly learned & retained the names of Caroline, Bridget, Caleo, Lynn, Cathy, Barrie, Rainbow, Avtar, Leah, Laurie, Anna, Barrie, Ingrid & John. Surprised myself as much as the others when I rattled them off. (I'm probably mis-spelling some of them.)

After working on the inbox (aka, the living room) on Saturday, I went to a pizza/movie with a new friend for her birthday (there were 3 of us & we had a blast) She's psychic--she held onto my glasses & told me a number of things, including that I have a red couch & a massage table (neither of which she had any way of knowing).

tonight is a literary event at Malaprop's:
my friends Charles deLint & Charles Vess will be there, as well as the fabulous Karen Schaffer, who is (thank you thank you thank you) responsible for my Ashevillean existence.

gotta go
more later
just wanted to say hi
& I haven't forgotten you

oh yeah

Blog alternative:
80. Think of a country you've always wanted to travel to. Learn something about it via Wikipedia, or the encyclopedia, or an atlas. (I have another friend who's thinking of taking a trip--to Turkey!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Catch-&-release fishing in the river of light

Whilst the blog languished, the Laurel did not. Since Friday August the 24th, I have had many wonderful happenings, some of which (those that I remember) I will share with you now.

The biggie:

I started looking at houses. Saw a listing for one that had two houses and another building on the lot, which would have gotten me started right away on my plans to become a land baron(ess). After talking to the guy on the phone, I got the idea that this one wouldn't be quite my house, but I also felt a twinge of intuition that by going to see it I would find my house.

The first property was okay, in a kinda sorta way. Started driving around the neighborhood, writing down for-sale numbers & addresses. Then--ta da--another for sale sign, leading down a driveway behind a fence...

Turned out to be a really cool property, with potential to build. So I got info from the realtor & made an appointment to see it, with a savvy friend who knows about building. He gave it the thumbs-up & I got myself pre-approved for a loan at my bank on my way home. That meant another visit to the realtor to put an offer in, which required lots of signaturing & initialling of pages. Then it was in their court.

Curious as to how it came out?

I made an offer.
They countered.
I counter countered.
They counter counter countered.
I counter counter counter countered.
They held firm.
I counter counter counter counter countered.
They soulsearched & respectfully said that the previous was their rockbottom price.
I respectfully declined to pay it.

It hadn't been on the (sucky) real estate market long, so they weren't desperate to sell yet. If it hangs out for a while, I asked the realtor to let me know. It could still happen. Or something better...

In the meantime, I live in a gorgeous (cheap!) apartment that I love & am not desperate to move. I can keep looking, at my leisure.

I've read several great books since last I posted.

The Path of the Dreamhealer
, by Adam, which has so much great information for everyone interested in healing themselves or others--or just being happy.

The Master Key System, by Charles Haanel. This is a FASCINATING book. It was published in book form in 1912, after being a correspondence course. You would not be able to tell by the language or the concepts that it originated at that time. For example, if you get the book--Barnes & Noble re-issued it--look at page 136, section 10. If you get the .pdf from somewhere--it's in public domain, after all--search for "cellular telephones." Remember, this is from the very early 1900s... I think you don't have to work quite as hard as he suggests to get what you want, but it's amazing work, & very clear.

Getting Things Done, by David Allen. My son Nick recommended this to me. I think he just read the Wikipedia article, but his mama went out & bought the book. Even though it's very corporate-culture business-y, I think the concepts & practices will be very useful to me. I've scheduled Thursday & Friday this week to get everything in my "inbox" & getting "in" to "empty." I'll let you know how that goes. Nick is way ahead of me--not 22 yet & already getting things done. Grin.

Tonight I get to see Diana Gabaldon at Malaprop's. A thousand years ago, when email addresses were just numbers, we were on the Litforum on Compuserve together, when she sold Outlander.

I guess this is enough of a catch-up. Maybe I'll tell you about some dvds I've seen recently in the next blog or two.

Blog alternative:
79. Sit down in a quiet (or noisy, if it doesn't make any difference to you) room & pretend/imagine/remember/know that you are part of the infinite river of light, love, perfect abundance, perfect knowing, etcetera. Feel it flow through you. Let it bring things in & wash things away. Repeat as desired.