Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Times of transition

We had a wonderful Christmas. After a big family dinner at Izzy's on the 23rd, six of us went to the coast together. Doug's parents are doing well. Mo has regained much of his energy following the heart attack in October. Lois was cheery and generous as always. Doug's sister, Charis, came, and brought her good friend Andrea. They are both pastors. Then Doug and I completed the party.

The Oregon coast is beautiful and dramatic. We stayed at Worldmark in Seaside, and had an ocean view from our unit. The water was lapping around the historic turnaround there -- a concrete raised circle that touches the edge of the beach. Lois, who grew up in that area, said she has never seen the water so high. We walked along the promenade, played in the arcade, and ate very well from food we brought along and prepared in the full kitchen.

Andrea proved a great addition to the group. She was great to be around, interested and quick to lend a hand, generous and a lot of fun. We all told her she was welcome back. Her family is far away.

Everyone enjoyed the gift exchange. This year our rule was one gift from each to each. I was surprised and delighted to receive Absolute Sandman, vol. 1. The larger size and recoloring are gorgeous, and the stories are like old friends. I keep forgetting that these stories are horror. The gore, too, showed in greater detail. Yet there is a warmth and humanity -- after punishing Alex Burgess, Morpheus goes on to forgive Dee. Was he deliberately provoking Lyta Hall?

I'm only about half through the first volume. It will be hard to wait for the rest to come out in Absolute format. I'll likely reread the series from the graphic novels.

We will be at Mo and Lois' house for another week. Now that Christmas is over, my attention returns to the changes I am making in my life. How can I reach the people my life coaching can best serve? How do I do my work in the world, and receive the compensation that will let us live and continue our service? There are even harder questions: I feel our country has taken a wrong turn. Shall I lend my sway to restoring law and freedom? How?

The week between Christmas and New Year's often feels like found time to me. When the Christmas project is completed, and the New Year's projects are not yet ready to begin, there is a length of time ideal for planning changes. Shall I have new paths in 2007? How will we create income? What really is my most critical work to do in the world? How can I serve?

May you face your future with courage, and use this time of contemplation well.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Paradox World Journal


We soon depart for Oregon for two weeks. We'll be spending the time with Doug's parents. Mostly in Portland, two nights on the Oregon Coast.

The Oregon Coast is known for dramatic weather. We should have a good chance to remind ourselves about rain and humidity. We seem to be forgetting pretty quickly.

I look forward to doing some shopping in Portland. It is still the best shopping city I have ever lived in. Low prices, great selection, no sales tax. Really a great place to shop, and since I'm not keen on carrying a lot of gifts on the airplane, I've delayed most of my Christmas shopping. This should be entertaining. Fortunately, I find something festive in large crowds of shoppers. Really looking forward to hitting Lloyd Center, which was my 'home' mall for seven years. I wonder how it has changed.

Maybe walk NW 23rd, or hit Saturday Market, or stroll the Alberta Art District. Just for old times' sake. And then there is the huge center of gravity that is Powell's books. Nothing makes a city feel like home more than a good used bookstore.

Las Cruces does have one. Coas' is very decent, especially considering how much smaller a population base it has to draw on than Powell's. And how many fewer rainy days there are here to inspire the locals to curl up at home with a book.

Life is good.

Happy holidays to all. I may skip another week as we travel. May the new year find you well and prospering.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Las Cruces Buses

Good morning!

We've been walking more recently. The repair on our car, originally estimated for 2 days has reliably been extended by a day each day for the last 4 business days. Of course the shop is closed on weekends.

I'm a little out of the habit of it. It's very easy to become accustomed to the seductive dinosaur-burners.

Las Cruces has an elegant bus system. It does almost everything necessary, at the minimum acceptable level. In return, the price is very low. There are eight or nine bus routes. Each is a one-way loop. I was confused, at first, because there would be bus stops on only one side of the street. Now I know -- it's because the buses only run on one side of the street. If you want to travel upstream on the loop, ride most of the way around it.

Fortunately, each loop is fairly short. Most of the buses running the various routes all start from the central transit station at the same time, every 40 minutes. They tour their loop, sometimes waiting at checkpoints to keep the time right, and often meeting another bus for transfers there. Then they return to the starting point, in somewhat less than 40 minutes, salute the other members of the herd, and on the mark, they start the loop again.

This makes transferring from any line that goes to the central transit area to another such easy. And you can transfer from any one to any other one just as easily.

The lines that don't come to the central transit station intersect at logical points, like the local mall.

My small experience with the buses so far has shown that they run on time. This is very good.

Running only every 40 minutes, and sometimes requiring riders to take circuitous, long way around paths, is not so good. But it does allow the system to cover a large portion of the city, regularly, with only one bus and one driver per route. That is very efficient. The exchanges are elegant.

All in all, it is a low cost public transit safety net. If you have time but not money, it will get you where you need to go at a low cost.

If you have money but not time, you are unlikely to want to use it. Observed ridership has been low on my small sample. Maybe I'll take a look at it during rush hour some time.

May you balance the costs and benefits of your purchases well.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Joyous Leftovers

This morning's breakfast consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mashed squash. Obviously, this is a post-Thanksgiving meal. All three of those veg are too starchy for Doug's low carb diet, so normally I don't have any of them in the house. But our good friends David and Susan sent us home with Thanksgiving leftovers, and I am enjoying them very much.

Turkey is almost gone. Today will be the last day. Dave brined it, following a three-day marination procedure, and the results were excellent. They also chose an organic turkey, and placed celery and sage and garlic in the cavity, and I've never had better.

David and Susan took very good care of us. We spent four nights at their place in Albuquerque, much talking and laughing and relaxing. I'm very thankful to have such good friends.

And I'm thankful for this breakfast!

May you take joy in the common gifts of life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Preparing to be thankful

Well, I missed a week. Keeping quite busy. In fact, I overdid it a little, and crashed. Have to remember to schedule self-nourishment when working with time management systems.

Tomorrow, we head north to Albuquerque and spend the holiday with David and Susan and Kaitlyn. Every year, I appreciate Thanksgiving more. The whole concept, of taking time to give thanks, is nourishing to self and world.

It helps that we have been relaxing about exactly how we celebrate Thanksgiving. We all like turkey, so we do a turkey. Side dishes are fewer each year, and the whole idea of rushing to get things right diminishes each year, too. I like cooking in a turkey bag -- less planning ahead, more moisture left in the bird. David is brining one this year. I'll be interested to see how that turns out.

We're too far from home to gather with family this year. We've all sent each other messages. We know we are thinking of each other, and that's enough.

May you all have as simple or rich a celebration as you wish this year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Contrary Brin

What a beautiful morning!

I believe the Bush administration is about to receive one of my most rigorous blessings: "May you receive a clear view of your own faults" -- and not a moment too soon.

The moral is: Embrace CITOKATE* before CITOKATE gets imposed on you.

I believe in science. That means that testing one's ideas against reality is necessary to progress. To cut off error detection by avoiding criticism is to start on a path to perdition even more direct than the one lined by good intentions.

*CITOKATE stands for: Criticism Is The Only Antidote To Error, as developed in the blog of David Brin, at Contrary Brin

I seem to have drifted to Wednesday morning. The next entry is also new since last Wednesday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I am a Life Coach

Yesterday, we had our first follow-up call for the members of my Life Coach training group. Our facilitator, Kim Barber, pointed out that saying we were 'in training to be a Life Coach' is one of the ways we sabotage ourselves. All of us have the skills to coach, right now. She's seen them.

I admit, I have been a little skeptical that our training was sufficient. We had reading material and worksheets beforehand, and then a very intense three day seminar. But part of the reason we were there, is that we have all been coaching people all our lives. The training gave us more system to apply to what we already know, and the experience of having the tools used on us as well. It's all that's needed. That, and the ongoing work of finding the people we can best help, and making ourselves known so that they can find us.

If you are reading this, you know a lot about my history, and that I am a new Life Coach. Or I'm a newly official Life Coach. I AM a Life Coach. I am newly making my skill available for hire. And I have new techniques from my NorthStar training. I am, right now, a Life Coach, and in many ways, I always have been.

Thursday, I was talking to Tommy Angelo on the phone. It is my very great privilege that he has been a coaching mentor to me. He lists himself as a poker coach, and he approaches every game as part of a client's life, so he is effectively a Life Coach who approaches life through poker. If you are serious about poker, I recommend hiring him immediately at

Anyway, I was talking to Tommy, and we were talking about coaching, and I said I had been somewhat catalytic in people's lives now and then. And he said, "Uhuh, yeah, right," normal moving a conversation along sounds, nothing unusual here, and then, hairpin voice turn, he said, "OBVIOUSLY! Absolutely! Of course you have!" Like 'What are you freaking talking about, understating your abilities like that!!!!' It was one of the most classic voice tone double-takes I've ever heard.

Thanks, Tommy. It was a good time for me to hear that.

If you have been reading this blog, you also know the changes I've gone through, and how I have handled them. You know that I am not perfect, and that I keep trying to become more truthful and compassionate. There's my evidence, in public. I am a Life Coach.

My professional site is:

May you all acknowlege and use your strengths. The world needs you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I'm late, I'm late

This week went by like lightning. Mo continues to recover. Doug had some follow-up to the X-Prize to do, and then a lot of missed homework to catch up on. He returned from being with his father on Wednesday. I was really glad to see him.

Last night I was drooping a little at the end of the day. I've been busily doing my Life Coach homework every day. The stated assignment is to spend at least ten minutes a day in some activity that advances my practice, plus speak to one stranger about Life Coaching. I've generally been overshooting, of course. So, I was tired early, and I started to wonder why. Then I thought, oh, yeah, only a few days ago, I was utterly exhausted. This is not so bad. Nor so unexpected.

Also have two editing clients now. Both are good company and good writers, so I'm enjoying the work immensely. Excellent sign! It does absorb my attention and my time. I keep looking up and thinking, oh, right, lunch is a couple hours overdue.

Of course the biggest relief is that Mo is home and doing well. The doctors said his heart was shocked. It will take time to recover his stamina, and even to know how much of his capacity will return. He's making some lifestyle changes, always a challenge. But he has lots of support, and a strong will.

May you have the support you need when you need it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Life Coach training completed last weekend. It was intense. I have effective tools for fast change now. And I know what it is like to have them used on me.

Then, when I came out of class, and turned on my cell phone Sunday night, I discovered that Doug's father had had a heart attack. Shortly after attending his father's funeral, Mo went to the hospital with unexplained pain. They tested him twice, found nothing, though the doctor felt something wasn't quite right. Mo was preparing to leave when he had a heart attack, in the hospital. No better place for it.

He's doing very well. They expected to release him today. Doug flew to be with his family -- was already on his way before I knew it had happened. I was really glad that our friend David was visiting, and helped and supported Doug through the news and with getting to the airport. Good friends.

On the way home on Monday, I was involved in a small fender bender when a car stopped suddenly in front of me on the freeway. The car in front of me hit the car in front of it. I hit the one in front of me when I was unable to stop in time. No one hurt, plenty of time spent on the police report and speaking to insurance companies.

Yesterday I slept a lot. Blogging totally slipped my mind. I think missing that deadline, like being involved in the accident, is one more thing I'm going to give myself a pass on. Yes, possibly I could have done better, given more foresight. And also yes, I did well enough. So there we are.

I know the life coaching is the work I was meant to do. I love the work, and I love helping people to discover and become their best selves. Much more information is available at my website. See:

If change was easy, we'd already be doing it. Stagnation is easy, and it also binds us. Freedom takes movement, even through difficulties.

So this week I wish you the courage to follow your dreams.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Busy Week

Hello, it's Tuesday. This week has gone very quickly. Doug has work, around his classes, helping to set up the computer network for the X-Prize Cup. I've had editing and more web work and more preparing the house to hold a home office. We seem much busier than we were just a couple weeks ago.

Doug is really grooving on the airport where he's been at work. It's a small municipal airport, and the people there really focus on flying. Balloons, airplanes, rockets -- we've had a flight theme running here recently. The earliest balloon flights date to the 1800's, the earliest airplanes were early in the 1900's. What a long way we've come.

I had my first experience proofing pages. Julie Czerneda sent me PDF pages for my story Shining Field, appearing in her anthology Polaris next year. That has to improve on sending physical pages back and forth. She has been great to work with. Very friendly and helpful. I had already enjoyed her writing. It's nice to enjoy her editing, too.

Thursday I leave for my in-person training. So this week is bound to go quickly, too. I'm liking being busier. It makes a nice change. Would it make a good lifestyle? I will have to see.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Up For Poker Blog

I highly recommend this article: Prohibition

Please take a look.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Calmer now

Doug said he could tell I was angry last week. I even left in a couple typos. Definitely out-of-character.

Feeling better now. Had more time with the subject. And, as further analyses come in, it appears that the legislation will make less difference. The most interesting effect has been that the publicly traded online poker services have been pulling out of the US market. The privately held ones have been remaining and assuring their customers of the safety of their money. Already some migration of players has shown in weekend traffic.

I've pulled my money out. I had other major projects going on, and was already considering leaving. I have poker topics I still want to turn into articles, and some articles already written. I don't know at what point I'll feel my material is too out of date to continue writing about poker, or if I will return to playing later. A lot will depend on how my other current games play out.

I've started distributing cards for A few of the professional site cards have gone out, but largely as curiosities rather than advertising. My in-person training is getting close. I have worked and reworked the correspondance training items. Looked for other useful sources, and read additional material. Brainstormed a business plan and mentally rehearsed Life Coaching sessions. I'm as prepared as my will and available time can make me now.

At least until I think of something else to try.

A week from Thursday, I head for the in-person intensive. Then the time for preparation will be over.

Meanwhile, impelled by my anger about the poker restrictions, I took a closer look at some of the bills passed by the current legislature. By Amnesty International's accounting, the USA is now in violation of international law regarding the treatment of prisoners. Remember all those movies where the American heroes protest that their evil captors are breaking the Geneva Conventions? Well, it's now the US that has passed a law saying we won't follow the Geneva Convention if the president thinks we have a good reason not to.

I do not like having the government that supposedly represents me abridging human rights. At this point, our own government is creating more human misery and more fear than the terrorists they claim they are trying to protect us from.

I'm taking my first action, which is to complain in public. I will vote of course. And other actions -- as I find them.

May you have the courage to act for what you believe is right. I wish you this, even if we disagree on what that right may be.

Monday, October 02, 2006


I'm really rather angry about having my ability to play online poker restricted. Last night, Senate majority leader Frist attached language making it illegal for US Banks to send money to online gambling sites to a port security bill. Since this is a Homeland security issue, Bush is almost certain to sign it into law.

It was a backhanded, last minute way to slip a new law through. Very end of the session, late at night.

I'm confused. Weren't the Republicans supposed to stand for more freedom? Where's my freedom to engage in mental contest by the free choice of all involved?

Weren't the Republicans supposed to stand for less government? Why are they pushing this regulation that will require new oversight bodies, vast additional paperwork from banks, and entire new ways of observing the actions of American citizens? Just to make sure we don't spend our money playing online poker? So, to protect you from online gambling, you'd like your government to track all your financial transactions?

OK, I've been angry about plenty the government has done recently. But this feels personal. It hits what I do with my free time, every week. It comes right into my house and interferes with my liesure and a tiny bit of my income.

And there are one hundred thousand other poker players who cared enough about this to join the Poker Players Alliance.

What I hope is that this, and all the other ways the current administration has been showing that it doesn't represent us, the people, will finally be enough for voters. And that the polls will resoundingly give at least one house back to the Democrats. Because this administration needs brakes and accountability.

Because I'm still hoping the system works. That voting can make a difference. That the opinion of the people still counts in this country.

Because if it takes more than voting to get our government to be OUR government again, it is going to be a lot more trouble.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A week of webbing

Is it true that one week ago I had never heard of WordPress? Wow. Now I have two sites well under development. Many little steps taken toward building the restaurant review site and the life coaching site. Restaurant reviews are ready for public access at The life coaching site will only go live after my training. I am enjoying playing with it, and it will be good to have it almost there upon my return.

The in-person part of my training is less than a month away now, and I am really looking forward to it. Doug keeps asking me if I want to volunteer at the X-Prize Cup, and I keep saying 'I'm busy'. Then we giggle. My training and his space event overlap on the calendar. It's really fantastic that we both get to advance our dreams next month. Our good friend David is coming down to give Doug company and support for the event. I'm taking a room in the highly luxe resort for the training. We'll both be richly sustained.

It has been rewarding to work the images and colors for the websites. When the colors and fonts come right, I feel bubbly satisfaction. It does tire me more than usual to continue to focus on how things look. It's not my favorite mode of grappling with the world. I feel all the happier to get back to words after the change of mode.

It's a good idea for me to get away from the computer screen in general. The weather has been beautiful recently. It's starting to cool. On September 21, I was walking to campus, and I felt a cool breeze. Instantly I thought that feels like Fall. Yup, right on time.

May you all find your projects coming together.

A week of web design

Is it true that one week ago I had never heard of WordPress? Wow. Now I have two sites well under development. Many little steps taken toward building the restaurant review site and the life coaching site. Restaurant reviews are ready for public access at The life coaching site will only go live after my training. I am enjoying playing with it, and it will be good to have it almost there upon my return.

The in-person part of my training is less than a month away now, and I am really looking forward to it. Doug keeps asking me if I want to volunteer at the X-Prize Cup, and I keep saying 'I'm busy'. Then we giggle. My training and his space event overlap on the calendar. It's really fantastic that we both get to advance our dreams next month. Our good friend David is coming down to give Doug company and support for the event. I'm taking a room in the highly luxe resort for the training. We'll both be richly sustained.

It has been rewarding to work the images and colors for the websites. When the colors and fonts come right, I feel bubbly satisfaction. It does tire me more than usual to continue to focus on how things look. It's not my favorite mode of grappling with the world. I feel all the happier to get back to words after the change of mode.

It's a good idea for me to get away from the computer screen in general. The weather has been beautiful recently. It's starting to cool. On September 21, I was walking to campus, and I felt a cool breeze. Instantly I thought that feels like Fall. Yup, right on time.

May you all find your projects coming together.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Changes Afoot

Changes Afoot

Web changes are on the way. I've spent a lot of the last week looking into hosting and web design. I'll likely move this blog to a paid host within a few weeks. I'll redirect and post links at that time.

It's amazing how much time searching for a good template, or even a good template idea can absorb. I really enjoyed it. Kept being startled by the darkening of the evening sky. Not too many things let me lose track of time.

The other large absorber of my mindshare has been editing for Tommy Angelo. Take a look at Tommy's poker article archive and scroll to the bottom of the left column. I've been working with him since the beginning of 2006, and having a great time with it. He just finished his most ambitious article yet, Reciprocality, and it should be posting to pokerpages soon.

All of which has left little time for poker! It's a curious state, to be engaged in working with writing about poker, and yet seldom play. When I have played, the large intervals since my previous sessions have left me feeling unfocused and not at my best. Since it's far more fun to play well (and win, variance allowing), I have been thinking a bit about my meta-game. I'm not sure yet how to arrange my approach to poker to arrive at better results. Thinking about it is a good first step!

Meanwhile, if you are having poker difficulties, and you are serious about your game, I strongly recommend you talk to Tommy. Go to and find out about his program.

Now I have business cards to design and websites to plot.

May you enjoy your work.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Body, image

Body, image

We ate tonight at a new restaurant that had a full wall of mirror in the dining room. I haven't had a full length mirror to reflect in since we came to Las Cruces. As usual, I'd forgotten how solid my torso is.

I measure 42-38-42. Some ways off the designated 'ideal'. I do have trouble finding pants that fit well.

What I saw was not fat, but armor. Here's the layer covering my abdomen, shielding from the knife that has twice sliced from navel to bikini line. Here's the padding to cushion the impact next time my car gets rear ended. Here's this much distance from the cruelty of the world.

I live, as best I can, open to the world. Optimistic and ready to engage. Or so I thought. But here I saw, some part of me wants walls and protections. Some part of me is blocking and shielding and coating me in fear.

I've never dieted. My body stabilizes well, maintaining the same weight except under exceptional stress. I stayed, without effort, at the same weight for five years before that little car accident, then gained ten pounds, and have stayed there for the last four. The other period when I first went over my 'ideal' weight saw our family farm go bankrupt, my brother killed in a car accident, and more -- how can I see these pounds with anything but compassion?

Of course, I would like to be healthier. That is a separate issue.

All in all, I could only think kindly of that shape in the mirror. Yes, she's heavier than ideal. Yes, I could work on that. And yes, that's me and my history, my flesh, my choices.

Doug, bless him, said I looked great.

I think acceptance first, and change as it comes.

And may you all come to peace with your bodies.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday!

Doug is due in class in an hour and a half. He has his first graded quiz today.

School is agreeing with him. He keeps saying things like "Whoa! I can do that on the way home from school!" and "I love this calculator!". All the signs are good.

This morning, we hope to catch breakfast at ChaChi's, which has become our neighborhood restaurant. Their menu is largely Mexican, with some nods to American style breakfasts. The waitresses are recognizing us now -- good food, good service, good prices, cheerful ambience. It's really everything you want in a neighborhood cafe. Easy walking distance from our doorstep, right along Doug's path to class, too.

This is part of my new 'update blog on Tuesdays' initiative. Our much anticipated web comic, Girl Genius updates at Midnight EDT Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday on the dot and without fail -- the Foglios must use some sort of automated posting software. Eventually, I will investigate and get myself one of those. Until then, 'updating on Tuesdays' means that some time between Monday afternoon and Tuesday evening, I will add a post. You can think of that as updating on Wednesdays, if you like.

May still post outside that period as well, when taken by inspiration. But you know how it goes -- when it comes to production by inspiration versus production by persistence, persistence wins about 9 to 1.

We took no particular notice of Labor Day weekend. Doug has class Tuesdays and Thursdays, so a four day weekend is part of our lifestyle now. Ah, we are living so well! Now to get some income to sustain our dolce vita!

As usual, September, with classes starting and temperatures cooling feels like potential and new beginnings to me. A better time to start new projects than January. And we certainly are!

May Fall bring you renewal, too.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Exciting Times

Doug's first day of class went well.

Whoa! you say! Since when is Doug is school?!!!!

Good question. It all happened so fast. One day, NMSU, the University half a mile from our new home, announces a new Aeronautics Engineering degree. Doug discovers it, calls the college -- two weeks later he's enrolled, and Thursday August 24th -- surely a day that will live in perpetuity -- he took his first classes. My beloved husband is going to be a Rocket Scientist. I like it.

Do you know how often people say, "It isn't rocket science." I run into it about four times a week. I laugh.

Meanwhile, I have undertaken training as a Life Coach under Martha Beck. See her website here. I read an article by her, then a book, in June. In July, I read more articles and a second book, and decided I had to get in the training program. In early August, I took one of her seminars, and could verify in person that all I'd gathered from the reading held true, and this course absolutely resonated with my essential desires. I completed application to the program, and am doing the written preparatory work to the in-person training in October. I've never discovered a possible line of work that rang so right with me before. I want this very much, and I've been taking every step I can think of to see that it happens.

Like I said to Doug, I love that we are becoming the kind of people who reinvent themselves.

And so the leap we took in moving to Las Cruces progresses.

I know that these career paths are both the truest we have ever been to ourselves, and the ways we can best serve others. I am very thankful that we have had the courage and the guidance to reach this place.

And so I wish it for you: May you have the courage to do the work that fills your heart and best serves the world.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Group Nakedness

Group Nakedness

Check this out: From Cardplayer online:

195 Show Up To Paddy Power Strip Poker Tournament
John Young Wins and Bares More for Poker Charity

One day, many years from now, John Young will sit down and amaze his grandchildren when he tells them he once won the world’s largest strip poker tournament.

Young, of Slough, England, beat out 194 other hopefuls at the Paddy Power World Strip Poker Championships that was held at London’s Cafe Royal Saturday to walk away with £10,000, a specially commissioned Golden Fig Leaf trophy, and entry to the Paddy Power Irish Open where up to £2 million will be up for grabs.

In addition, Paddy Power promised to donate a further £10,000 to the charity of the winner’s choice, Cancer Research, after John, who was the last of the players to have any clothes, revealed all to the crowd.

The tournament kicked off at 1 p.m. as 195 hopefuls from more than 12 countries set out to keep their clothes on and carve themselves a place in history as part of a new official Guinness world record for the biggest strip poker tournament ever.

The event had originally been an April Fool’s story by Paddy Power earlier this year but, after receiving requests from all over the world to take part, the bookie decided to run the tournament for real.

Each player was given five items of clothing which they used to buy chips. As they lost their chips, they cashed in their clothes for more. Some even opted to strip from the bottom up and sat playing naked except for a cap.

The tournament may become a yearly thing.

OK, look at this. 195 people wanted the opportunity to play poker in public and lose their clothes. It was guaranteed that to have the best chance to win you would have to strip. And everyone but the winner would lose all their clothes -- that is how a poker tournament works. Then the winner took off his remaining garments for charity.

At least 195 people think differently about public nudity than we are taught.

195, that's quite a few.

Worth considering, next time the temptation comes to think people are all alike.

May you cherish your uniqueness.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

5 am events

5 am events

"Doug," I say, "I smell skunk. That means one of two things, and one of them is very bad."

"I was dreaming someone was using a lighter," he says. We stumble out of bed, no lights, I put on my bathrobe and go smelling around. Doug turns off the cooling system.

The smell is strongest in our bedroom and in the laundry room by the furnace. Doug finds a flashlight, and by its light I search the phone book.

I tell the woman who answers, "I smell skunk. It's strongest near the furnace."

"I don't know what we can do about that," she says.

I stop. What? "Ummm, doesn't leaking gas smell like skunk?"

"Oh no," she says. "We use ------." My sleep-fogged brain does not catch the name. "It's a very strong smell, a very bad smell, and very distinct."

"Not skunk?"

"No, ------. It's very distinctive. We can still send someone out if you want us to check."

"Let me check with my husband."

I report that they don't use skunk. He reports that the smell seems to be dissipating and he doesn't hear any hissing.

"I think we are OK," I say.

"The skunk is a very humble creature," she says. "But when it dies, everyone knows. Do you live in the country?"

"In town." I describe my neighborhood.

"I know where that is," she says. "The skunks go everywhere. Especially after a rain. And especially in the country. Call us back if you want us to send someone out."

"I will," I say. I smile, and let it reach my voice. "Thank you very much."

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Our Europe trip was amazing! We started with a single night in London. I went down to Gutshot, the poker club whose website publishes my articles. (See my article archive - here ). The manager, Jim, made us very welcome. I'm glad to report that the food, beer and atmosphere are all excellent. I tried a little pot limit Hold'em, which is their most popular game. Mostly folded everything, just watching how it was different from the limit Hold'em I usually play. Interesting.

Then off to Barnsdale Country Club, where Mom had exchanged her timeshare for a week's lodging for six. Doug's parents, Mo and Lois, joined Doug and me and Mom and Larry there. The guidebooks say this is one of the less interesting parts of England. Well, all of England must be fascinating then! There were five tourable castles within 10 miles. Plus a lake, a nationally famous garden, loads of great pubs, bird watching and more. Mom went to all the castles, Doug and I satisfied ourselves with one. And we toured the Barnsdale Gardens -- beautiful, divided into little sections on a human scale. Geoff Hamilton, who had a tv show in Britain, designed much of it. Doug's distant Welsh cousins Ernie and Sheila came up to the country club, took a room for two nights -- we were very glad to get to see them -- and wanted especially to tour the gardens. They watched Geoff every week, approved of the way he was willing to get his hands dirty. Old Geoff's been gone ten years, but his garden lives on.

Then on to Finland! That was more restful, and by that time, we needed it! Mo and Lois remained in England. Mom and Larry and Doug and I flew to Helsinki, and then drove to the resort she had reserved there -- the Hannunkivi Holiday Honka. First we drove west into the Sunset. Many lakes, low rolling hills covered in pines and birches rising above them, stylish modern buildings in the cities, some very graceful bridges. Then we drove north into the sunset, which was a bit disorienting! The sun went below the horizon for only an hour or two while we were there. It was never truly dark. We rolled into our cabin at 11 pm, and it looked like 8, still light, out. It was a strange, floating feeling.

Our cabin had a sauna, and was by a lake. The cupboard above the sink had a mesh floor, so you could put dishes there to drain and dry. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. We enjoyed slowing down, trying the boats on the lake, walking into town. Generally a somewhat more luxurious form of camping.

One thing that interested me was that there seemed to be no fear of theft there. The resort left our room unlocked for us, and had paddleboats and rowboats sitting by the docks into the lake, for anyone to use. There were life jackets and darts and bikes, all unlocked, outside and freely available. It was only a mile's walk into town, where the library loaned Mom a copy of _The Old Man and the Sea_ on her signature, without asking for ID. Yes, we were somewhat out in the country. Still, what does it mean that people are so confident of each other there?

Our train from Helsinki left early Saturday morning. So we went into Helsinki a day before our reservation at Hannunkivi ended, and stayed one night there. We had time to take a walking tour and get a traditional Finnish meal. Hmmm, it appears their tradition is meat and potatoes. :-) Helsinki felt a bit like Portland or San Francisco, very clean, modern, great street market and parks, gorgeous Cathedrals and public buildings. The harbor had a mix of boats -- huge ferries and cruise ships, yachts, personal motorboats, and sailing ships, some with wooden hulls. Very cool. Wish I'd had time to shop, the stores looked great.

Then by train to St. Petersburg! That was by far the most intense part of our trip. The streets are hustling, the buildings are huge and most have decorative sculpture or columns, there are parks and monuments, an onion dome cathedral, canals and a major river. We took a walking tour our first night, and went into the Church of the Spilled Blood -- with the onion domes -- and the Hermitage art museum our second day. Our last morning, we just took our time getting ready to fly again. We had fantastic rooms at a B & B, hosted by the incredibly knowlegeable, gracious and English-speaking Natalya. I recommend the Assembly B & B in St. Petersburg highly. She taught us to drink vodka the Russian way. That's worth another story another day!

All in all, it was an amazing trip! And now we are glad to be home again.

May you all have the adventures that add savor to returning home.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cook Locally

Cook locally

We took a little time out last week to play tourist in our new home region. We had a local Visitor's guide, and followed one of the day trips in in. Drove over to Mesilla, the Mission era town on the edge of Las Cruces. Once Mesilla and Las Cruces were separated by the Rio Grande and the border between the US and Mexico. Then the river moved. Mesilla retains a lot of colonial Spanish flavor, with an attractive cathedral on the town plaza, and Mission style architecture around it.

Then we drove down to Stahneman's. They have 180,000 thousand acres of Pecan trees. We had just missed the tasting tour. The drive between the orchards is very gracious, especially where the pecan trees have grown to stretch arching branches across the road, in a fashion I usually expect from elms. Stahneman's has a spacious gift shop -- selling pecan gift tins, specialty foods, candy, ice cream, kitchen accessories and cookbooks. We browsed for some time. Naturally the cookbooks took a fair portion of my attention. Only a few days before, I'd said I wanted local recipes so we could start taking more advantage of the local ingredients. I settled on _The Aficionado's Southwestern Cooking_ by Ronald Johnson. It seems to be a classic, and I liked the way he talked about ways to vary the recipes. No photos, friendly attitude, solid food.

So, last night we followed his recipe to make Green Sauce. This may be the most New Mexican of New Mexican foods. We are only 80 miles from Hatch, the Green Chile capitol of the world. And the state question of New Mexico is 'Red or Green?' -- meaning, which color of chile sauce would you like on your dinner? (Of course you want chile sauce on your dinner, what are you thinking?!) When we crossed the border to New Mexico on our second trip here, and discovered that the convenience store offered green chili for the nachos, Doug said, "Ah! I'm home!" So of course Green sauce is where we started our New Mexico style cooking.

We had found frozen green chile purée at Costco in Albuquerque -- I'm sure they've never carried it in Oregon -- so of course we had to quadruple the recipe to match the volume of chiles. Costco, you know. So we had enough to simmer two and a half pounds of cubed and browned pork, plus some to use as salsa and several more packages to freeze. It was labelled 'Hot' and is it ever! The pork chili verde was excellent! Made a very nice dinner with broccoli and refried beans.

Other local specialties are pecans and honey. We've eaten a lot of pecans since arriving. I'll be looking for recipes for them. And there are lots of fruits and vegetables grown locally.

In fact, there's a farmer's market this morning, and I think I'll go.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Counter Change

Counter Change

Right now, my counter is making me very happy.

We have a beautiful kitchen. The previous owners revamped it. The cupboard doors are hunter green, the counters, edges of the cupboards and door pulls are medium oak. They made a lovely backsplash of small green tiles bordered by oak trim, and covered the wall behind the sink in a pattern of stone tiles exactly to my taste. Mostly squares, a few diagonal seams -- just enough variation for interest without so much as to become gaudy.

One particularly gorgeous feature is the piecing of the oak boards in the corner. The boards run from the edge to the backsplash along all straight sections of counters. There is one corner. They meticulously fanned triangular pieces of oak to create an even and gorgeous transition from one facing of the strips to the next.

Now that Doug has repaired the under the cupboard lights, the whole counter glows in home magazine fashion. It really looks like a designer kitchen, photo-worthy, rich.

Using the kitchen instead of looking at it revealed a few problems. The space allowed at the end of one counter, where the water line to hook to an internal icemaker suggested we should put our refrigerator -- is actually too small to place any standard refrigerator, if you want to actually open the doors wide enough to open the drawers. The dishwasher is an inconvenient three steps distant from the sink. And, most ungracious of all -- the gorgeous wooden countertops were not waterproof! In the time between when we first saw the home, and when we took possession after closing, the area around the sink had darkened and waterspotted. Boards had separated from their neighbors and the gap had been filled with wood putty. The whole counter had aged, in a matter of weeks.

It's amazing how awkward it feels to work in a kitchen where you dare not get water on the counter. Every standard kitchen task becomes more complex.

Three days ago, I refinished a section of the counter. Sand, coat with polyacrylic, wait three hours, repeat. To a total of three coats, with a final sanding.

It's not perfect. I preserved some flaws too deep to be sanded out, and one section of the finish has a little pebbling. Yet that counter glows. I can fill a glass on it, without hyperattention to not spilling any. I can wipe it with a wet cloth, no harm done. I'm free.

So I'm now very happy about being able to do with a counter things that before I moved, I took for granted for counters.

That's the way it goes. We're often more appreciative of an improvement, than of the many blessings we're accustomed to.

I don't know how long I'll continue to be happy every time I wipe the newly refinished counter with a wet cloth. Most likely, in time, I'll forget how wonderful that seems to me now. But do I have to? Could I remember?

May you see one of your current blessings with fresh eyes.

Sunday, May 21, 2006



My last post will have informed the alert reader (Hi, Doug!) that we have arrived in Las Cruces. Yes, we have been here since April 27th, and our stuff arrived in the truck on May 3rd. Time has just been flying. There is so much to do. Unpacking, small home improvements and repairs, learning where all the services of Las Cruces can be found, and adapting to local usages.

I love it here! There's so much more diversity and life than in Bend. Birds sing before and after dawn, there are all these new plants about. We are close to campus, and we've seen many shades of skin, a full spectrum of choices and styles. The food is great, too!

We've made very good progress on adapting this house to our ease, and placing our stuff within it. The spaces are different than our last house, of course. I noticed an awkwardness before we had enough tools about. I missed having writing tools at hand, bookmarks ready to mark my page, my address book -- the little conveniences that let me do the everyday tasks of my life easily. As we started unpacking our boxes, and placing these and similar things about for use, I began to feel more and more powerful. Simple powers -- like the ability to write a grocery list -- add up to a lot of leverage on the world. I've been very happy to regain those abilities.

So, for a while, every box we opened and distributed increased my power.

Then we hit a point where the next box was more likely to be a nuisance than a help. There are a few very useful things in most boxes -- and as we go on, more and more of the stuff seems burdensome and irrelevant. I have to find a place to put it, it doesn't add any new abilities to my life, it may be only very occasionally useful, and it clutters the clean lines of sight throughout the house. We hit the point of diminishing returns.

Of course, we ended up packing more stuff than ideal. At several points, we had helpers in who packed without trimming. And I reached a point where it was easier to pack an item than to make a decision about it. So there was a small amount of stuff that I knew, even in Bend, that I didn't need to bring.

We've discovered more that seems irrelevant to our new life as we learn about the climate and our inclinations here. Some things, like the turtlenecks, are seeming blatantly useless here. Others more subtly so. So, likely more trimming of possessions to come.

I want to remember that point of diminishing returns -- how I felt as unpacking changed from adding to my life to burdening it. Ideally, I'd like my level of stuff to create that maximumly powerful point all the time. Where does stuff stop adding to my abilities and start being a drain on my time and energy? Can I get rid of all the stuff beyond that point? Now there is a good question.

Ideals are meant to be imagined, not reached. I'll move toward this one, as I can, and enjoy where I am anyway. And then there is the organizing of the stuff, for ease and convenience -- and that too works better when there is less stuff to organize.

So on I go.

May you move ever closer to the ideal level of possessions.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

New Sand Garden

Today we walked down to get breakfast. Along the way, we wished our neighbors a good morning, admired the blooming cactus -- fruit of Monday's cloudburst.

Great breakfast.

Walking home, Doug stopped to admire a rock wall. The builder of it said we could have what we wanted of the leftover rocks. Back we went, with handtruck and gloves. I chose, and Doug and Mo, his father, loaded one rock onto the handtruck. Mo wheeled it home, and placed it as I wished, patient with my small adjustments until I had it right. Now my sand garden has its three foci. Telephone junction box, birdbath, stone.

Doug and Mo went off to another project, and I had my garden to myself. I took the sand rake -- left by the previous owners -- and smoothed and molded around my foci. The birdbath needed a slight adjustment. I made it, and leveled it again. One side of the rake smooths and moves, the other makes inch-wide furrows and pulls debris out of the sand. First, the smooth side to make good contours. Then the pegged side to remove the fallen leaves. Then the pegged side again, to make pretty patterns in the sand.

I could see where I lost focus. Small wiggles, or gaps in the minifurrows. A little touch-up, and then the acceptance of it, as it is.

Soon I will place a bench, sheltered beside the shed and facing the sand garden. Then I can sit there. Just for me.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Acts of Faith

Acts of Faith

We are about to move 1500 miles. Lightening up is a good idea. There will be no making a second trip to gather the items we couldn't quite fit in the first time.

We have a lot of stuff. Last time, we used U-Haul's largest truck, plus two runs with my stepfather's trailer. We've bought some additional furniture and stuff in the five years since then. Pruning is ongoing.

We trimmed a little more than ten percent of our library. We're pretty much keeping the entire rock collection. We took a few cubic feet out of the games collection. And I'm letting go of twice as much volume from my cloth stash.

The mover's video instructions suggest tossing all cleaning supplies and pantry items. Can I really do that?

I see that I've been using stuff as a safety net. The pantry represents this much margin between me and hunger. The cleaning supplies, a bank of resources to avoid squalor even when broke. More t-shirts than I can wear in a month -- that much insurance against going cold and naked. Unread magazines -- that much barrier between me and boredom -- which is what? The fear that I can't face my own thoughts without distraction?

We once went to a museum in the Welsh countryside that recreated typical homes from pre-literate, medieval, and 1650, 1750, 1850 and 1950 eras. You could see the stuff swell hugely for 1950, kitsch and radio and home decor and utensils of vast variety and color -- enough to choke on. I liked the sparsity of 1750. One table. One chair, one plate, per family member. Of course, this one bed per family arrangement needs to go. And there is a lot to be said for keeping the livestock in a separate building.

The old paradigm -- the old proverb -- 'Waste not, want not' -- dates to that time. And it still has its applications. Still, could they have imagined receiving by post, for free, enough paper each week to light each morning's fires? Would they have recoiled, shouting 'Sin!' at a catalog offering seventy-four different swimsuits? And what would they have done with a collected stack of twenty AOL discs?

Really, this stuff has to go. I need my irreplaceable time and the energy it would take to track and move all this for better things.

And so, into the trash with every frayed towel and stained t-shirt. Send the fresh, durable pantry items to the Food Bank, and let go of the past-its-use-by-date dressing mix. Toss the last half cup of flour. I can do this.

And every discard is an act of faith -- faith that I will have what I need, when I need it. Faith that I have the resources to feed myself and clothe myself and face time without props. Faith that everything will be OK.

May you find your safety in yourself rather than your possessions.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Using Things Up

For a while, I've known we were moving. It becomes more concrete every day. We spent March 12th through 18th driving to Las Cruces, choosing a home and making an offer on it, waiting for the offer's acceptance, and driving home again. We've accepted an offer on our home. It was listed for only 2 weeks.

So, now, if all continues to go well, we close on the home here in Bend on April 24th, drive ourselves and our cats to Las Cruces, and close on the home there on April 27th. Meanwhile, a hired truck brings all our stuff behind us, and we'll be able to unload it directly into the new place. That's just the way I wanted it.

We could still hit some snags. Not for lack of anything I could have done. I've played this hand beautifully, and if the cards end up falling against me later -- that's just the way it goes. Contigencies -- there is always something that can be done.

So, in the meanwhile, there is no point in moving more consumables than we have to. I've been cooking down the pantry. Emptying the freezer of the packages from the whole beef we bought. Making do with fewer than the usual number of shampoos, as one bottle after another goes empty, and is not replaced.

And as we pack things up, we have more space, more room to move. I'm not quite ready to let go of all our stuff. I begin to see, a little, how having less stuff could be a pleasure. Something for one of these days.

Plans and shifts. I'm really looking forward to this move, and I'm enjoying what I'm learning getting ready for it.

May your life bring you exactly what you need.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

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Time for a confession. I'm postmodern.

I spent years not even knowing what postmodern meant. That was pretty postmodern in and of itself. In fact, I still may not know. Well, that's one of the things about it. Not knowing is essential to being postmodern.

It isn't entirely despair. Like we had optimistic and pessimistic existentialists -- assuming I understood them correctly, which may be too much to claim -- there is actually a bright side to postmodernism. When you're willing to take everything apart, you create room for tolerance.

And that's how I really know I'm postmodern. I've taken myself apart. Deconstructed. Looked at the foundations of the foundations, and discovered that's really no there there. I've done it, every so often, all my life.

It's not the most fun part of being postmodern. There's a lot more play in the return of humor to philosophical discourse, self-referentialism, the conscious collaging of separate pieces. However, deconstruction is the heart of postmodernism. Once the foundation reveals itself as emptiness, a huge weight disappears. Of course there is humor -- huge structures from emptiness is funny. Of course we refer to ourselves -- there's nothing more solid to call upon. Of course we gather bits from everywhere, and use them again -- with no foundation to rise from, we must gather sideways instead.

Tomorrow I may reconstruct myself. Regain a sense of self, have faith in something I can put my feet on. Believe that truth is obtainable, put myself in service to a cause, work for the better tomorrow that is the great modern promise. In fact, I'm sure I will. I always have before.

And there is something that chooses -- something that remains, nameless and unknown, yet a seed that recreates. I don't know what it is. Each time, it pulls some me together again.

That, and that, will take me through today. Though now I feel low and lost, eventually -- eventually I will be again.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Recently, my sleep pattern has changed. I find I only need six hours. I'm crediting it to the Holosync. It might just be maturity.

This morning, I am at my brother and sister-in-law's home in Winnemucca. They both rose early, went out for coffee. Doug lies abed, getting his beauty sleep -- and it must work, he's very attractive! And I am thinking about early mornings I have known.

My sister rises early too. Genetics, or a legacy of youthful farm labor?

Because, this, to me, was the archetypical farming morning:

Dad would call through the bedroom door, and I'd roll out of bet, dress with jeans, button front shirt, hat and tennis shoes. We'd be out the front door, and into the pickup, ten minutes later. Another ten minutes to drive to the farm, sun rising over the hills, air fresh and moist. Then my sister and I would take Grandpa's pickup out to the out to the fields.

We moved irrigation lines. The wheel lines were easy. Disconnect the four inch diameter hoses from the side line, start the motor in the center of the field with the pull rope, walk behind as the pipes rolled about ten yards beyond the limit of wet soil. Reconnect the hose at the new location. Start the timer. Check that all the sprinklers opened up as they should. Next field.

The intermediate wheatgrass, though, was too tall for the wheel lines. Rolling along would have broken the tops off the stalks, scattered the seed that was the most profitable fruit of the field. So we had hand lines. Again, disconnect from the sideline. We practiced, and we could lift the twenty foot segment from the center, press it toward the next segment, and twist it just so, releasing the catch and freeing it. Then lift the pipe overhead to clear the stalks, and march it to its new location, wet wheatgrass brushing against our clothes in the mosquito-laden dawn.

Reassemble. Reattach. Timer. Check for trouble. At last, drive back to the house.

Where Grandma cooked hamburger patties and toast, cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes. And we could visit until our clothes dried, and it was time to go hoe or hay.