Family Ghosts

I have recently decided that the reason family records are kept in half-forgotten folders, or are written in dusty Bibles, rarely read, is because printed documents are much heavier than the actual paper the words rest upon. They are representative of all sorts of old baggage and family ghosts.

I’m in the process of being confirmed as a member of the Episcopalian church. In this process, I’ve realized that my grandmother’s Catholocism is more a part of me than I ever knew, and I’ve re-examined a lot of negative feelings about religion and faith.

But none of that – none of it – has been as jarring as the experience of reading my Baptism Certificate for the first time.

We are accustomed to dealing with legal records in the form of birth certificates, the legal document you must have to get any kind of ID – driver’s license, passport, social security card – and I am intimately familiar with mine. I know that my birth was formally registered about a month after I was actually born and that my mother chose not to name my biological father.

When I called St. Mary’s Church in New Monmouth, NJ, to ask for a copy of my Baptism certificate, I didn’t expect the information there to be at all new or weird, and yet, a week after making a simple request for paperwork, I’m having a minor identity crisis.

It began when I saw the envelope addressed using my birth (that’s maiden for the old fashioned among you) name, something I haven’t seen in print in ten years. As I told my mother, I had a weird moment when I felt like I didn’t know who that person was, that I was opening some other person’s mail.

And then there was the shock of seeing the box for “father’s name” filled in. It’s not that I didn’t KNOW his name, because I did. It’s that I was expecting to see “name withheld” or some such. But, as I told my aunt, while my mother often prefers to believe (or pretend to believe) that I sprung fully formed from her belly, like Athena from Zeus, intellectually, I have always been aware that there is a real person who contributed half my chromosomes.

Once, when I was at my grandmother’s house, I found a box of letters from this man to my mother, dated in the months before my conception, and ending with his reply to being told (though this last was unreadable, as it was torn to bits). My grandmother made it disappear however, and I’m sorry about that – it would have made a great novel.
So all I remember, now, is that he seemed to have a large vocabulary, and he wrote witty, slightly snarky, extremely affectionate letters.

Saturday night was a restless one for me, as I was mulling over whether to let his name stand on my confirmation records, and I finally decided that since I had to provide a copy of the baptism certificate to St. Andrew’s, it was fine to let it stand. After all, confirmation records are completely internal.

I had a long chat with my aunt about it though, commenting on the weirdness of seeing my certifiably insane godfather’s name, and mocking the form of her name that was used.

But I’m still a bit boggled.
And introspective.
And thinking a lot about family ghosts.

Update on Winged Things

Does know what is flapping around your window at night make the flapping any less mysterious in full dark, or the dog attempting to capture the creatures any less pathetic – for dogs are no match for birds?

I think not.

Thanks to my good friend Karen, I now know that my night-flappers include a flock of Grackles. Read more about them here.

Winged Things

It is sometime between midnight and one in the morning, and I am in bed, the lights out, the radio on but barely loud enough to hear. The night air, beyond my windows, is cool, but spring-cool – there’s no bite to it.

Zorro is curled in a small ball, on top of the blankets, but pressed against my abdomen. Cleo is on her belly, stretched along the foot of the bed.

Outside, there is wind. I can hear the gentle tinkling of my windchimes, hung in one of the trees, and the soft clicking sound of the slats in the vertical blinds as they move, caught in gusts that blow through the partly-open window.

If there is a moon, I cannot detect it, with the blinds mostly closed.

The wind gusts stronger, stirring the trees, and the creatures within them, and suddenly my world is full with the sound of many many pairs of flapping wings, and startled cries. Cleo raises her head, and lets a low growl simmer in her throat. The neighbor’s dog barks, not at all aggressively, but more a mournful sound – if a bark can be mournful.

In my head, the real sound of the birds and (is it possible?) bats (it sounds more leathery than bird wings alone), mixes with the half-remembered short story I once heard, about a dark winged creature trapped inside an oberservatory on a dark night, with a lone human being. It’s a creepy story – the flying thing and the man battle in darkness, and at one point the man feels teeth on his flesh – but even in my sleepy semi-consciousness, I am not afraid.

The flapping subsides. There are a few stray warbles and chirrups, and then all is silent, save for the wind, and the chimes, the even breathing of my dogs, the soft murmur of the radio.

When I wake again, it will be to sunshine and birdsong, but for now, I sleep, guarded by the dogs, and the winged things in the trees, and in the morning, when I ask Fuzzy if he heard all the flapping, he will look at me and ask, “What flapping?” as if it was my imagination the whole time.


I’m feeling extremely introspective and not chatty this week. Words will come eventually, I know, but right now I’m listening to silence and finding answers in quiet.

I’m hesitant to declare a formal break in blogging, as I know that as soon as I do, I’ll have more words than I can number, racing to tumble out of my fingers and onto the screen.


I have a million things to write about, but I’m way too tired to do so.

In brief: Gym, Kinkos, Mongolian bbq, Got lost in Dallas, Farmers Market, Avocados, Sleep.

Especially sleep.

A Walk in the Park

The problem with having dogs is that, while they do provide a reason to go for a walk every day, you can’t always drag them to the park and then ignore them while you sit on a bench, such as the one pictured below, and read.

Benches at Blue Park, Grand Prairie, TX
Click for larger image

And lately every time we’re in the park, that’s all I want to do: sit and read and sip water. I could, of course, bring a book into my back yard, but, my back yard doesn’t have tall broad-leaf trees (it has red-ears and ivy, but those aren’t the same).

Late in the afternoon, I can hear the laughter of the kids in the playground (the house that shares our back fence faces the park, so while it’s technically around the corner, it’s also one house away.) I find the park to be flawed, because there are no swings, but the kids don’t seem to mind, since they have this climbing/sliding thing:

Play Area
Click for larger image.

For that matter, the dogs don’t mind either, they’re happy to be around so many sniffable trees, and have broad expanses of grass to race across.

Of course, I could leave the dogs at home, but, I ask you, how could anyone resist a face like this?

Miss Cleo Waiting to go Out
Click for larger image.


Just some quick updates.

The only really remarkable thing that happened today was that the loan I’ve been fighting for all week finally funded. I’m dreading writing the thank you note to the client, because, frankly, he’s been an ass.

Walking into the bathroom this morning, I stepped the wrong way onto the towel that was temporarily acting as a bathmat (the actual mats were in the wash), it went sliding across the slippery ceramic tile floor, taking me with it, and I landed rather unprettily on my tail bone, which still hurts.

On our walk today, we taunted the cement poodle on the corner, well Cleo did, which was fine, actually, since she got all the barking out before we encountered the woman crawling around her lawn taking pictures of her flowers.

Muzzy Headed Musicality

I’ve got nothing interesting to say tonight. My head is muzzy and my mood is fractured. I want to write letters and sip tea, but I can’t decide whom to write, and boiling water seems taxing just now. Such a mood.

And yet, despite this total lack of focus or will, I’ve added a new album’s worth of music to my Zen player and my harddrive. While searching for a second version of the song “Hallelujah,” so that I could compare them (for the record, this is a song that was used in an episode of The West Wing, as well as in Shrek though it wasn’t the same artist who performed them, I stumbled across a third version, by k.d. lang.

I’ve never been a particular fan of k.d. lang – her lack of capitalization annoys me – but I really liked the way she did the song – hearing it sung by a woman changed the dimension of the tune, completely – so I downloaded the rest of the album, and found it quite enjoyable, though, it should be noted that the album is almost all covers, and the musical accompaniment is really understated.

New sounds almost make the muzziness not so bad :)

I heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord,
But you don’t really care for music, do ya?
It goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift,
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Hallelujah, hallelujah

Colors, Flavors Sounds

Inspired by conversations over IM, I’m suddenly lost in a sea of remembered sounds: the ocean at night, with it’s calming rhythm, the chirping of crickets, the screetching of stray cats out on the prowl, the rustling of wind through the trees.

The last isn’t remembered, though, but wafting in through my bedroom window, and combined with the soft chirruping of birds at roost (and something that sounds distinctly mammalian – could we have bats? Is it a possum? – the musical tinkling of the wind chimes I bought at the Botanic Gardens on Sunday.

I’ve been paying more attention to sounds and colors and flavors this week, as I’ve attempted to figure out why I’m suddenly drawn to pink, a color I’ve long-hated. Am I influenced by the fact that this color is evident in every storefront, or am I incorporating happy childhood memories of being a five-year-old ballerina in pink tights and pink ballet slippers, learning how to do awkward swan curtseys? This attraction has influenced every aspect of my life, from bath bubbles to workout wear, from wrist watches to pink drinks – and not merely the cosmopolitans and cape codders I’ve always loved, either – raspberry nonfat mochas have replaced caramel macchiatos as my caffeinated beverage of choice, most days.

And then there are the flavors. Today I indulged myself by cooking a mess of deep green spinach, and stirring it into a garlicky, cream-cheesy omelette. And it was good. I love spinach – as vegetables go it’s dark and earthy, and so versatile – steamed, it’s a side dish, rinsed, it’s a salad – cover pastry crust with it, add slices of roma tomatoes, and fresh onion, sprinkle grated gruyere over the whole thing, and bake for a few minutes, and you’ve got an elegant lunch pizza that partners well with a glass of chilled white wine and a bunch of grapes.

I love lunches like that, and had I been thinking, I’d have taken mine outside, because today was balmy and beautiful, despite the hint of crispness below the sunny warmth. If a day could have a flavor, today tasted of limes and salt, tequila and triple sec, drunk while sitting on a breezy outdoor patio, and while wearing a white cotton sweater.

But I didn’t think about it, and got caught up in work and fighting with lenders, instead of going out to enjoy the day.

Colors, flavors, sounds.
Do they still exist if you don’t venture out to enjoy them?

Green Things

It’s not technically spring, but I felt distinctly springy today, as Fuzzy and I wandered through the Japanese Garden, part of the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, a place I’d previously only known through Rana’s pictures.

Japanese Gardens - Tranquil Stream
Click thumbnail for larger image.

It was a great day for a stroll really. It was cool and misty, and the grey light made the green of the trees and grass seem so much more intense.

In keeping with the theme of green-ness, I wore green eyeshadow today, just right above the lashline, after seeing it in a magazine during my salon visit. Pastel green totally makes brown eyes POP.

Also, I tried something recommended by Chad the Master Stylist, which he said his wife does: I used Aveda’s Rosemary-Mint hair conditioner as shaving cream for my legs. It was bliss. Shaving bliss. No nicks, no scratches, and it cools and moisturizes better than lotion.

One Yellow Thing
The post-garden part of the day was lovely also. A lengthy chat over coffee with Rana and her friend Missy J, a toasty, tasty turkey sub at Quiznos, and the acquisition of some wonderfully light and refreshing lemon verbena body lotion and shower gel from Provence, via Bath and Body Works. (events not necessarily listed in chronological order)

And some Pink Stuff to finish it off
While in Bath and Body Works, I also bought the item I actually went in the place to find – a deliciously pink jar of cherry-scented bath bubbles. The bubble mix is the consistency of honey, the bubbles, once…bubbled?…are silky and lightly scented (I know this because they ran a warm sink of them for me to test.)

And, in a strange fit of ongoing pinkness, I took home a lovely faux-leather tote, in jazzy pink. (I don’t know where this new attraction to pink has come from, but I’m enjoying it immensely.)

Green, Yellow, Pink.
Spring colors.