Twists of Fate

It shouldn’t surprise me, as little sense of direction as I have and as seldom as I have an inkling where my path is leading, that I end up in some weird and completely unpredictable spots at times. Take the time I was at a luncheon with the queen and king of Norway. It’s entirely safe to say that they forgot the occasion right about the minute their motorcade zipped off with its Secret Service escort to ship them back to the White House for their next performance. Having lunch with a bunch of foreign academics, even if it’s coupled with getting a doctoral degree (Queen Sonja was receiving an honorary doctorate for her humanitarian work) and having a permanent outdoor sculpture dedicated in your honor is so yesterday. Like that kind of stuff doesn’t happen to royals every day of the week. I, on the other hand, don’t have that sort of thing occur very regularly in my life and found the events of the day pretty memorable.

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(Left to Right: King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway; Pacific Lutheran University President Loren Anderson; Gene and Esther Grant, donors; the Rev. David Wold, Bishop and university board Chairman; li’l ol’ me, sculpture designer; David Keyes, professor and chief fabricator of the sculpture; Frank Jennings and other assorted faculty and board representatives. That’s the sculpture, Generations of Oak, behind me.)

It was amusing to take part in the bizarre hoopla that takes place when an assembled group of citizens in a country that takes itself far too seriously as being above such things as royal-worship (erm, Have you not looked into the mirror, O nation of celebrity-slavish fools?) gets a chance to suck up to the high and mighty of another nation. To experience the hilariously artificial and probably pointless stiltedness of security instruction from our friends the Feds; to shake hands with other humans who have been designated super-important and wonder why they would bother to shake hands with me–or, admittedly, I with them–and to hear all of the earnest speech-making and watch the well-meaning maneuvers; all of this was really educational indeed. That it was so for me in the context of the university where I taught was certainly not lost on me. I almost felt like I should get some undergraduate credit in sociology or anthropology for being involved in my little way.

But I’ll admit that most of all, it was entertaining to realize that through no particular virtue of my own I had once again stood in a spot that others might envy and reaped unearned rewards that would remain in my memory-book for a long time to come. Just call me Lucky.

Welcome, 2013!

We’re really vacationing. It’s a true holiday. Okay, we’ve got to do our regular ‘exercises’ of keeping up with online correspondence, blogging and business, but are limiting the time spent at those tasks daily for the duration of our few days here in central Texas. So I’m savoring the rustic charms of small-town and Hill Country and riverside and tourist-friendly parts of the state while crossing the bridge between 2012 and 2013.

It seemed, then, utterly apropos that during our New Year’s Day brunch today I looked up at the cafe’s lovely wood rafters and saw a fittingly old-fashioned, Texan pseudo-firework to get me in the mood for the occasion: I was sitting at precisely the right angle for the joist joinery to overlap in a nice Texan Lone Star. I highlighted it here for those of you who might not spot it immediately, and to fire off my own modest firecracker in celebration of the flip of the calendar, and to wish all of you a genuinely joyful and prosperous and fruitful year in 2013. Peace, love and happiness in abundance!digitally enhanced photo

 

Rants in My Pants

Yeah, yeah. I get that itch and I just gotta scratch it. Clearly, I’m not much on keeping my feelings to myself. Secretive? Uh-uh. Obviously I’m not paranoid about my privacy. Got nothing worth stealing but the loves of my life, and they are all masters of their own destinies thankyouverymuch. The skeletons, if any, in my closet would likely bore the socks off of any self-respecting archaeologist, and any idiot that puts in the effort to sneak a peek into my nekkidness, physical or spiritual, will get the severe eye-poke he she or it deserves without requiring any action on my part beyond existing in my infinite beauty.

Then again . . .

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The unmapped life is full of wonderful surprises . . .

What I could never have designed for myself or expected as a reward for my humble personal resources is a life history marked by the remarkable and filled with the fabulous. To take inventory of the amazing things I have experienced and the outstanding people whose paths I have been privileged to cross is to stand in awe of my incredible good fortune and all of the odd and pleasing presents it’s tossed in my circuitous life’s wanderings. Here’s a little inventory of some of that funny life o’mine in the form of a list, in no particular order, of things I have or have not done, for good or ill. I guess we all do this sort of self-inventory from time to time because such reflection is an intriguing way of finding out surprising things about each other and, more than that, about ourselves.

Here goes.

Things I Have Done:

*   Been bitten by a pony
*   Exposed a thief by revising a public swimming pool’s accounting system
*   Captured a bird by using a veiled antique hat
*   Canoed the Kickapoo River
*   Designed/sewn a ball gown out of plastic trash bags for a special party
*   Used an arc welder—very briefly and ineptly, to be sure
*   Seen celebrities at airports and discussed tuna sandwiches with one TV star
*   Forgotten very nearly as many things as I’ve learned
*   Grown vegetables
*   Been president of a theatrical organization
*   Helped rebuild an old toilet by custom manufacturing obsolete parts for it
*   Changed tires
*   Been the pianist for a wedding and for a theatrical production
*   Attended a formal banquet in a foreign palace
*   Told lame jokes
*   Been served coffee by a famous symphony conductor
*   Gotten stitches for a hockey injury
*   Drawn pictures
*   Drawn a crowd
*   Drawn butter
*   Drawn a blank
*   Slept with my hairdresser (okay, my husband cuts my hair)
*   Won a Best Actress award
*   Won a safety-orange knit dickey
*   Fallen through a ceiling and hung by my armpits from the joists
*   Rooted plants from cuttings
*   Grilled shark
*   Had an allergic reaction
*   Taught university courses in art, English (writing) and learning strategies
*   Ice skated on a frozen lake
*   Stage-managed a national convention
*   Practiced archery
*   Delivered a homily to a chapel full of theologians and religion professors
*   Darned socks
*   Made dinner for an internationally famous cookbook author-editor
*   Carved alabaster
*   Run lighting for a professional ballet performance
*   Created a computer cataloguing system for a library
*   Disassembled and reassembled an ellipsoidal reflector lamp
*   Played guitar
*   Fried eggs
*   Worked as a temp in a software company
*   Served on a jury
*   Danced onstage at the Opera House
*   Photographed dead flies
*   Shaken hands and exchanged greetings with a reigning King and Queen
*   Driven a shuttle van
*   Attempted Bikram yoga
*   Written and produced a one-act melodrama on commission
*   Taken Chinese calligraphy lessons
*   Slept on a tall ship                                                                                                         *   Glazed a window
*   Been the subject of a midnight police raid on the wrong house
*   Won a baseball trivia contest without knowing a thing about baseball
*   Composed a song about a pony (not the one that bit me)
*   Gone snowshoeing
*   Seen a Blue-crowned Motmot in the wild
*   Fallen in love

Then there are all of the Things I Haven’t Done (yet, anyway):

*   Won a cash lottery
*   Had a dental cavity
*   Owned a four-legged pet
*   Broken a bone in my body
*   Been to Asia, Australia/NZ, or Antarctica
*   Learned a second language (some will say I’ve not yet mastered a first)
*   Eaten escargot
*   Written a bestseller
*   Visited all of the states in America
*   Cured cancer
*   Gotten skillful at any sport
*   Truffle hunted
*   Been able to understand and/or believe what politicians are talking about
*   Milked a cow
*   Danced gracefully

*   Lived overseas longer than a few weeks at a time
*   Mastered the marketing skills to sell my artwork and writing well
*   Been chased by a badger
*   Looked attractive in yellow or orange clothes
*   Died
*   Played golf
*   Decided to have children
*   Swung on a trapeze
*   Competed willingly
*   Overcome all my fears and anxieties and inhibitions
*   Made glass artworks
*   Had an audience with the Pope
*   Been arrested
*   Successfully raised Himalayan blue poppies for more than one season
*   Figured out how to get square pegs OUT of round holes once in
*   Knitted (except my brow)
*   Gotten irrevocably bored
*   Hybridized a plant
*   Studied marine biology
*   Piloted an aircraft or any boat larger than a rowboat

If I were to do even a tiny portion of the latter list, imagine where the remainder of life will take me. Oh, yeah–you can’t, nor can I. It’s the whole wacky and delightful point, isn’t it. There’s just no way to guess where the next turn in the road will lead. That’s how an ordinary broad like me managed to get to this point in life. Coo-wull.