Wednesday, June 27, 2007

III. Viaggiatore ~ Sahara sand and the Mediterranean Sea

"It's so hot today." I whispered with a quiet sigh.

Viaggiatore turned and looked at me with those bottomless eyes. "It is warm, but it's not hot."

"You're in a fur coat and you don't think this is hot?" I gave him the 'single-raised eyebrow' of doubt.

"When I escaped from the evil chief of the Kilmuseri tribe at Mt. Elgon on the Kenyan and Ugandan borders, I headed north into the Sahara desert. It was 125 degrees. That was hot."

Both eyebrows shot up that time. "Wow... that is hot. How long were you in the desert?"

He swung his tail and shook his mane out and the scent of it's blossoms filled the air around us. "It took several weeks getting through that desert. It's about three thousand miles from Lake Victoria to Tunis, Tunisia. I ran as much as I could at night, I stopped at each little oasis that I could find. I met some friends along the way that were good to me, but it was a difficult journey. The good thoughts and deeds that followed in my wake were like rain in the desert to the people that I touched; it strengthens me when the idea of helping others is manifested in the lives of those that I meet."

I watched him quietly. I didn't want him to stop speaking.

"By the time I got to the Mediterranean Sea, I was feeling much better. I rested for a few days in Tunis, and then swam to Marseille, France. I stopped at a few random islands on the way but swimming in the sea was easier and faster than getting through the Sahara."

"You swam across the Mediterranean?" I was surprised to hear this latest twist in his tale.

"I am not a typical lion." he winked at me and smiled.

Viaggiatore stretched his legs out a little and wiggled his toes. "When I got to Marseille it was only a short distance to Lyon, France. I wanted to get to Shameless' place so that I could get into the writing circle. I have had such an incredible life, and it's only getting more interesting; the writing circle is just the place for me to share that, and it's good to have writing partners."

"You are definitely one of a kind, and I am so glad that you are with me now. Adopting you was one of the best things I've ever done." I said as I reached over and scratched his chin.

"We are a great team, you and I, and we are lucky to be in The Shameless Lions Writing Circle with so many other talented and wonderful writers. This part of our journey will be something wonderful."

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Walk Not This Way, Wanderer

"Walk not this way, wanderer."

"But this is the way I want to wander!"

"This way is a long and difficult journey. Once begun, there is no other way to go, no turning back. You could go back now and save yourself the effort."

I peered into the distance, to try to determine the length and nature of the journey.
"I cannot see the way very clearly, it is shrouded!"

"It is shrouded. It is enveloped in possibility and opportunity, but do not let that fool you, for the road is long, difficult and unpredictable."

"I can deal with difficulty and the unpredictable. I want to go. What will it be like?"

"There will be pain and tears intertwined with laughter and joy, and all of it will be bound with love. There will be hate and anger, sadness, desperation, hope, exhiliration, passion and fear, and that also will be rooted by love."

"What else will there be?"

"You will be uncertain, but you must make your own path. You can make it any way that you choose, when you are faced with a decision, you will be able to choose the roads that take you from it, but remember, while it is important to know from whence you came, it is also important to have a destination in mind, although the likelihood of you reaching your desired destination is improbable, you may get close to it. Every single step of your journey will be one of choice, and your final destination will be the result of all the paths you chose to take."

"What if I choose poorly?"

"You will choose poorly sometimes. You will make good choices as well when you learn how to do that."

"Will I be able to make it to the end?"

"You will have no choice, once you begin, you must go until you reach the end.

"Will I have to travel this road alone?"

"No, you will have the company of others along the way, but they will each come to you and each will leave, none will be with you from the beginning of the journey to the end, save me."

"You will be there?"

"I am everywhere, always."

"Will you help me?"

"I always help any who ask."

I looked as far into the mist as I could. The path disappeared into it.
"What is the name of this journey?" I asked quietly.

"It is called life."

"I want to go, this is the way I want to wander."

"Wanderer, will you not walk this way...?"

...and I took the first step of the journey of life.

Simple Pleasures

Ok. I'm taking one for the team here. I needed to post something, but I am loathe to post junk or another God blessed meme. I've developed an allergy to them, methinks. So, this is officially not a meme.

It is therapy.

I had wonderful weekend plans with wonderful people. They crashed on Thursday night. SIGH.

So I have been pouting and sulking with my tea, and completely uninspired to write. Visited several friends blogs and got cheered up a bit (thanks all!) laughing at silly stuff that others posted. I even translated a Portuguese comment for Moon Topples. I was visiting Jon at Writing in a vacuum, as he posts '5 things what are good' every day, and I thought perhaps that would put some sunshine on my stoic pout. What did he have? Nothing... he asked his guests to list 5 things this time. I'm sure I've mentioned that irony is the spice of my life.
However, I thought it was a good idea... make me come up with 5 things what are good, while I'm in such a state. Count my blessings and quit being a grump. Except I think I ought to count much more than 5.

So here goes, please feel free to add some and we'll see how many wonderful things come out of it.

Viaggiatore, my lion (see the right panel, just over there)
IM'ing my sister (but not at this hour)
Little ones
Elton John singing to me from my computer
Tons of tea
A good workout
The paints that are waiting behind my computer for me to dabble in this weekend
The Robert Fulghum book by my side
I am surrounded by good gifts from dear friends
Good sleep ~ when I get it
I started writing something this week that I should have written a LONG time ago
The Vettriano paintings that are going 'round some of the blogs I visit (Minx/GoodThomas)
The art festival I am going to this weekend, now that my schedule is wide open.
My professor, who calls me almost every day to visit about nothing in particular (but not today)
The old antique maps on my 'desktop' and screen saver
Pasta salad
Camping & boating
Spicy Aztec cocoa (this means it has cayenne in it mmmmmm.... good)
Candles that smell like edible treats (and hence make my home smell like I really can cook)
The artwork I have up everywhere here (Van Gogh, Vettriano, Monet, DaVinci, Rembrandt, Dali, and the super coveted work of my mermaids & some various children)
The myriad of literature in every room of my home
Watching Casablanca again
Wandering through farmers markets
Toes in lake water on a hot day
Poolside in the shade
Soft pillows & warm blankets
Long sunny days
Freshly baked bread
My camera & all the opportunity that it holds
Hugs (real good ones)
Random conversations with strangers that reveal wonderful people
Genuine smiles
The Moon & heavens... so captivating for me
Rainy afternoons
Fireworks shows
Back rubs
Hot bubble baths
Traveling and exploring
Good poetry
Long walks
Weekend mornings
Friday at 5:02 pm
Rainbows (depending on where they land, yes Hearts? hee hee)
Bunny babies (so sweet Sognatrice!)
Opportunity that plops right down in your lap when you weren't expecting it
Comfort food (this is a whole topic on it's own, I can't get specific)

Viaggiatore says he likes to have his back scratched, ears rubbed, warm milk and watching sunsets on our beach.

OK ~ what did I miss?

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Only in Wyoming. You know you're in the cowboy state when...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cracked Code

Lambent flickers of this topic have surfaced here and there around different blog sites lately, so I thought it would be a good time to bring it up.
Codes. Code words and phrases that we use with others 'in the know' when we are discussing something 'above the heads' of those who should not hear. Euphemisms... in a way... if you will.

Hearts mentioned this one in her "No Bull" post (and I quote), "For years, my husband and I used "Wonderful Person" as code for great lay."

Ally's mention of codes in today's post "In Which My Slothful Nature Allows Me To Successfully Rid Myself Of Negative Thoughts By Doing Next To Nothing"... (quoted) "And innovation must be his code word for lying". I think so... sounds right to me.

I thought about the codes that I use with different people.

Special = such a pain in the arse!! in, "You are so special, God bless your heart". Said with a pained smile.

That's nice = go jump off a tall cliff! ...but this one is said in a certain way, with a southern drawl, very slowly, phonetically it would sound like... 'Theht's Naaaahss'... and it would be said with a tiny smirk and a glare.... i.e., "That's your ex-boyfriend's new love, she's gorgeous and so sweet!".......(tilt your head insincerely) "That's nice."

Heart of Gold = this is the precursor to the rest of the statement which is usually left unsaid but definitely thought... heart of gold, brains of sh*t. Sometimes we meet the nicest people... people you just can't say anything bad about because they are so sweet... but they just don't have the foggiest clue.... "She's got a heart of gold...... God bless her." this is typically said with a 'that's too bad' shake of the head.

That's Awesome. = That totally sucks! Said with a furrowed brow, dour expression and hands thrown back in defeat. This is one of my brothers favorites. I don't actually use this one... but he says it constantly. As in... "You locked my keys in the car? That's awesome."

There are others, but some need not be listed here...

What code words do you use? Let's see the list!!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Monday, June 18, 2007

Dream maker

Sometimes following our dreams takes more bravery than we think we can muster, but once in a blue moon we find ourselves face to face with the opportunity to reach that far off neverland, where the fantasy becomes reality. It takes a very special and true kind of courage to step up to fate, close your eyes, and step off the ledge to discover that you can indeed fly.

Paul Potts is a cell phone salesman in the UK. He is a humble and shy man. He admits that he is trying to improve his low self esteem. Not unlike many of us. But unlike most of us, this man has a dream that is so dear to him that he decided to go after it, to take that chance and reach for what he wants so badly.

He auditioned for "Britain's Got Talent" (the UK's version of American Idol; hosted of course by none other than Simon Cowell who is notorious for his cruel dream killing). David meets Goliath when Paul walks quietly up to the microphone and the panel of judges asks why he is there. He humbly states that he wants to sing opera. The judges visibly cringe and roll their eyes. Paul is still and silent. The music begins... it is the well known and powerful aria Nessun Dorma, from Puccini's opera Turandot. This is no small task. The music of the orchestra swells and he looks up, with eyes wide... and changes his life.

When the under dog, the last one picked for the team, the wall flower in the corner, shows true greatness not only by grabbing hold of the chance of his lifetime, but more than that by swallowing his fears and demonstrating real bravery along with stunning talent, he becomes the hero that everyone else can believe in, and maybe he can begin to believe in himself too.

I dare you to watch this and not shed a tear... not find that you are rooting for the last man anyone would have chosen for anything. Watch this video and see the tides turn, in favor of the humblest bravery I've seen in a long, long time.

Paul Potts on Youtube

This is his audition. If you search for him on youtube, you will find two more of his performances, one in which he sings, "Time to say goodbye" and the second version of "Nessun Dorma". Both are well worth watching.

Live your dreams.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Paul Potts won the competition, his prizes include £100,000 and he'll be singing for the Queen of England in December. Congratulations Paul... this is where more than dreams begin.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Eight is enough!

Rob at Image & Verse tagged me with a meme of eights.

To begin with:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


Eight things about Scarlett

1. I am very ticklish

2. I found out that I can cross my eyes and they don't stay that way

3. I sing the National Anthem in the shower a lot... of course at the top of my lungs. The neighbors are very appreciative.

Angel 2

4. I taught my 3 year old nephew the song 'Do Re Mi' from "The Sound of Music" and he could only remember the first three notes... he sang it continually and repetitively after I taught it to him... 'do re mi, do re mi, do re mi'... my brother hates that movie. Heh Heh... We're learning '76 Trombones' from "The Music Man" next.

5. As a practical joke, I bought two round Styrofoam cylinders from a hobby store one year and frosted them with wonderful cake frosting, decorated it beautifully and presented it with candles lit to one of my best friends as her birthday cake at a small party with close friends. She knows I'm a lousy cook, so when she tried to cut into it and the knife got stuck she smiled politely. When she tried to pull the knife out, the whole 'cake' came off the plate...stuck to the knife. SO funny. Of course I had a real cake to give her when the shenanigans and giggles were done.

6. I call my sister in Arkansas every time I am at a concert that we would love to go to together, so that she can listen to it with me, on the phone. She's heard Prince, Paul McCartney, Elton John and some other very good shows. It's not quite the same, but it's nice to have my best friend there in a little way.

7. I still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, and I insist that all the little ones in the whole family humor me and go along with it... the parents give socks and underwear, these three give the good stuff... you stop believing, you stop getting the good stuff and all you get are socks and underwear. The bigger kids in the family have taken the little ones aside and explained my holiday philosophies to them, so they know ahead of time. Still arguing this point with a couple of stubborn nieces who will remain nameless at this time.

8. I have more Christmas stuff than any semi-normal person should, and it multiplies every year. One of my best friends walked in one year and her jaw hit the floor... 'it looks like Christmas threw up in your house!' she exclaimed... somehow this appealing analogy stuck... and now every year, everyone who knows me well always asks... 'did Christmas throw up in your house again?'... lovely hmm?

Friends that I know will have good lists:

1. Hearts in SF @ Guilty with an explanation
2. Ally @ Crazy dust in my coffee
3. LM Noonan @ The Failed Painter
4. Dewey @ From the hidden side of a leaf
5. Jules @ Thinking about...
6. Jon @ Writing in a vacuum
7. Chesca @ ExSkinDiver
8. Minx @ The Inner Minx

Have fun all!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Baby, Bye Bye

Minx is having a little writing contest for three Jack Vettriano paintings. My image on blogger is one of his works titled, "In thoughts of you". Minx called it my avatar... and it is, really, an incarnation of some of the inside of me. Some of his work truly stirs my soul and I connect with it on a deep level. That being said, I could not pass up the opportunity to write a poem about one of the paintings and enter the contest. Read through this, but then do pop over to The Inner Minx and see the other paintings and entries. Very good reading for wonderful art. This is my entry. The poem is titled after the painting. Thanx Minx!!

Baby, Bye Bye
Jack Vettriano

Baby, Bye Bye

As I find ways out of the night
Darkness fades into dim light
And so do you, my lover gone
Distance takes you far and long

Did you come and reach for me
In secret and in dire need
Urgent fire burned in haste
Blinded passion here misplaced

I held you close to make you feel
Like you were young and it was real
To taste hot lust and satisfy hunger
Prove prowess as when you were younger

Heated desire within your touch
Fast it pales and cools so much
Washed away your selfish torment
Passing with each empty moment

A tempest night you won’t regret
And miles that you’ll soon forget
You’ll justify the wrong to right
Black sin washed in dawn’s new light

In thoughts of her as you disappear
Of all the love and all the years
And all your life and promises,
For her, cold hands and lying kisses

And slowly though I turn at day
A trace of you will always stay
And I’ll go on, a new life found
And chance for me may still abound

Memories linger and shadows drift
But over time the ache will lift
And I will wonder if it was real
If we only touched or did we feel

Nothing really stays or lasts
So I’ll be strong and time will pass
Our roads will reach so far away
And never will there come a day

When your hand reaches out to mine
And suddenly we wake to find
That this was not a reverie;
Heart for her, and hands for me

One long last look, then turn and try
To let you go my Baby, Bye Bye

~ Wanderlust Scarlett

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Viaggiatore ~ Lion hide and jungle flight

Viaggiatore and I were sitting on the beach today, watching the tides roll in and listening to the sounds of the crashing surf. I was rubbing his ears and running my fingernails over his back... he loves that, it makes him purr very loudly. I have been aching to ask him to reveal his story to me, and this was the ideal time to open that door.

"Tell me how you came to be in Lyon, France." I said.

His gaze drifted from the glint of sunlight on the waves to meet my quiet countenance.
Looking into his eyes is like staring into the deepest blue part of the sky, and trying to see the place where the light fades into dark space... knowing that beyond what you can see lies a vast place, boundless and completely incomprehensible... filled with beauty and wonder.

His voice was soft and solemn. "I was in Nyeri, Kenya. I was visiting the children at Tumaini, most of them are orphans whose families have perished from AIDS. Some of the most beautiful blossoms in my mane are from these children. One night, after we had run and laughed and played all day, rest had finally overtaken us... tired and happy. As the stars passed over head, sparkling in silence, something else passed. The shadow of an elusive hunter caught only by the moonlight. I don't know how he captured me, I only know that when I awoke I was laying in a small cage in the dark and enclosed back of a truck... headed west... away from the horizon of Nyeri.

I tried to move, to stand in the cage, but it was so small that I could not get up; there was only enough room for me to lay on my side. I assume this was so I could not crouch to pounce, it put me at quite a disadvantage. I could see the sky out of the back of the truck, but that was all. I watched that patch of sky for what seemed like hours, trying to determine my direction and probable distance. Africa can be a dangerous place, knowing where I was would help me in escaping.

As it turned out, when the truck stopped, I knew immediately where I was by the smell of the air. A tarp was thrown over the cage to block light and view, but the scent of the air by Victoria Lake is unmistakable. I was about 160 miles west of Nyeri. I heard voices speaking in hushed tones... there was an exchange of some valuable item, and the hunter gave me over to the chief of the Kilmuseri tribe. As soon as the cage was opened, both my left front and left rear legs were clapped in irons and I was chained to a huge tree. The members of the tribe would not come near me... they stared with wide eyes from behind surrounding trees.

I asked for water... my thirst was terrible, but my voice and speaking ability terrified the tribal members and they ran. The saying goes, 'ask and ye shall receive'... and this time was no exception. The end of the rainy season there closed with a thunderous downpour of torrential rain for three days straight. I had no shelter, save the tree that I was chained to, but it's canopy gave some relief. On the third day, late in the afternoon, the chief of the tribe came to see me.

"Why am I here?" I asked. He sneered at me. "You are here because you have something I want." I watched him carefully, his cold greedy eyes moved over my body. "What do you want?" I wasn't sure I really wanted to know. He leaned in almost close enough for me to reach... and said in a low voice, "I want your skin... as a robe, and your head as my headdress."
Fury ran through me like a bolt of lightening, "You will never have it!" I roared with such force that he careened to the ground, landing on his back. Trapped though I was, I went for him with all that was in me.

I was filled with such rage when I ran for the chief that the powerful force of my leap snapped the chains that bound me. As I was about to reach him, the tribal warriors surrounded me, yelling and shoving spears into my face and lancing my body with the biting steel tips of their weapons. The chief jumped to his feet and ordered them to stop... and they pulled back only enough for me to circle and growl fiercely at them. "I will kill him tonight when the moon rises!" he called out to all of them. I knew I had to leave at that moment, before they locked my chains again. I looked for the smallest warrior and leaped straight for his head. He panicked and ducked, but as I arced over his body, the man next to him drove his spear into my left front leg."

Viaggiatore looked down at the wound on his leg. I've dressed it and wrapped it since he's been here, and my cousin, Dr. T. Lyon in Pittsburgh, gave us some helpful tips in making it heal quickly. I continued scratching his back, and he continued his story.

"The pain was excruciating, but I kept running until I could not hear them very well. I was able to pull the spear head out with my teeth, but my leg was bleeding and I knew I wouldn't be able to travel very far without resting. I decided to head to Mt. Elgon, just north of Victoria Lake. I thought I could hide in Budadiri forest, at the base of the Ugandan side of the mountain, and rest for the night. I had just reached the edge of the trees there, when I heard a noise and saw the tribal chief only 30 meters behind me. I ran into the forest and he chased... I knew he'd have a hard time hunting me there.
I made it to Sipi Falls, and thought he couldn't have followed me that far, and if he had, he wouldn't be able to hear me because the crash of the falls is so loud. He didn't see me, but I saw him and thought I'd be better off leaving than hiding. My leg was swollen by this time, and my fur was caked with blood. The pain had reached my shoulder, and I knew I couldn't go far, so I went a short way up the mountain to Kitum cave and finally found my saving grace there, under the most unusual circumstance.

It is the habit of the elephants and other animals that live on and around Mt. Elgon, to go into the caves there at night to lick the salt from the walls. As a matter of consequence, they have literally dug their way into the mountain some 200 meters with their tongues. On that night, a large herd of elephants had gathered and when I came into the cave, they welcomed me and offered a restful quiet place in the back of the cave, and safety in their midst. I was so exhausted that sleep found me immediately. The chief also found me, I learned, when a bird came to report that he was making his way through the lush vegetation toward us. The herd of elephants grew furious and what started as a blockade at the mouth of the cave turned into a full blown stampede down the side of the mountain... right on the heels of the chief... all the way to Budadiri forest.

I slept soundly through the dark hours and in the morning a small rabbit asked if she could take me to the top of the mountain, which is actually a dead volcano. In the crater at the top are hot springs which she said would help heal my wound. We were able to go slowly and I spent a day in the healing waters of those hot springs. When the afternoon sun started sinking into the wavering heat of the African landscape, I made my way down the Kenyan side of Mt. Elgon, and when I reached the bottom I ran north, wounded and slow, into the night."
That is as far as we got, because some friends came to visit. We've had many visitors over the last few days, and it's been nice to see them. Viaggiatore has had the opportunity to see some of his brothers, and he enjoyed it very much. I will ask him about the rest of the story in the next day or two, when he looks as if he's feeling up to talking about it.
Thank you for visiting, we look forward to seeing you again.
Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

5 questions

ExSkin Diver (a new friend and fellow member of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle) has sent me an interview! 5 questions... and she left almost no stone unturned; these were a bit of a challenge!

Dear Wanderlust Scarlett,
thank you for the chance to interview you.
Great Lion btw. Love how he's gone exploring!!!
Here are your Five questions:

1. That list you have in your purse of 25 things you want to do before you die...what are the top 10?

1. Get pilots license (almost done with that)
2. Serve a mission/serve in a 3rd world country for 1 year helping build communities and teaching (not yet... but soon)
3. Learn to play piano/organ - check
4. Visit Disneyland/Disneyworld - check
5. Go back to college (2nd tour) - check
6. Travel the world - partly checked (France, England, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, California, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Arizona, Kansas, South Dakota, Cabo San Lucas, Washington)
...I think I got them all... hmmm... still have most of the world to get to!
7. Learn French, Italian, Spanish & Japanese languages (si... working on that... )
8. Fly an F-16 (not holding my breath on this goal...)
9. Win a ribbon at a county fair (not yet and not with brownies...)
10. Learn to ballroom dance - check

2. You say that you are a good friend. If that novel that you are about to finish (one more chapter right?) makes a good friend of yours (who happens to write too) unhealthily envious...would you share your novel's success with your friend? Or would you dial down its success to spare your friend's feelings?

I would do neither. The obvious answer (and the wrong one) is to 'dial down' it's success to save my friends feelings... but really, this does a disservice to us both. If my friend is jealous, there is a reason; likely an insecurity on their part that needs to be addressed, not petted. If I know of an insecurity, I would never ignore it and pretend that things are fine, I would try to help them overcome it... help them with their writing, help them see the value in what they create - any product of creativity is produced from within us; from pieces of our souls, and that makes it invaluable. One is not better than the other, they're just different. The focus and my support would be turned to their efforts, not mine. Giving my friend compassion, understanding, patience, love, support and encouragement would be the best way for me to be a true friend.

3. Japan, Egypt or Ireland--where would you like to go first and why?

You're killing me. OH ouch. Probably Japan (I have some friends there), Egypt (fascinated with it's history) and then Ireland - (oh for the castles and countryside...) preferably for 6 months at least in each place. Siiiiiiiiiigh.

4. You seemed to have cured yourself of road rage. Aside from prayer do you offer your readers any other advice for living well?

Emm... well, not cured, but definitely cut way back. There's enough hate and anger out there in the world today, I do not want to contribute more to it. Perhaps if I am kind, it will be paid forward. Living well - YES!

a. take good care of yourself... oftentimes we think we should put our families and others ahead of us, but if we do that, then who would they rely on when we fall sick or aren't giving 100% because we don't have it to give? sleep good, eat healthy, dress well, exercise, meditate (prayer, quiet time, whatever... give your mind some 'away' time too). Not only does this give us the strength and energy to care for others, it is an excellent role model for our friends and families... people learn behaviors from watching not from listening. How many of us would tell our children 'do as I say, not as I do'... change that. Show them how you want them to be by
living it yourself.

b. speak positively - always - India Arie sings a song called 'Get it together' in which she says "because the words that come from your mouth, you're the first to hear. Speak words of beauty and you will be there. No matter what anybody says, what matters most is what you think of yourself" The idea is that whatever comes from you... comes out of you, originates from within. When we say something mean, or crude, or crass... when we swear... the ugly things that are uttered come from inside us and reflect who we are. Most of us are a lot better than that... show your best side when you speak - you do a disservice to yourself if you show anything less. Let go of those things inside you that are not who you really want to be, you are the master of your future... you own it, it's all yours. You write it. You make it. You do it. Blame no one else. Speaking positively all the time (or at least as often as possible) keeps your mind in a positive state, improves your mood, and improves the moods of those around you. There's not really a downside!

c. forgive yourself & forgive others - we are all human, fallible as a consequence of birth. We make mistakes. Sometimes the wrong that we do is intentional and then we regret it later. Carrying guilt around in your heart does you no good, nor does it benefit anyone else. There is no benefit to guilt, not even to one who tries to give it. If you are sorry for a wrong you've done, say you are sorry - not expecting forgiveness, only because you truly are sorry. Apologize and then walk away. If you are forgiven, great! If not, it is irrelevant. Is your apology contingent on it's acceptance? It shouldn't be. You are admitting a mistake, it's up to the other person to accept it or not, and that has nothing to do with you; you did your part, you said you were sorry... let the guilt go and be at peace. Dragging guilt around with you only weighs you down and holds you back. Don't do that to yourself, no one is going to save you from it. You have to let it go... and walk away.

d. laugh often, love much, forgive always (even if you don't forget - these are two totally different things) and choose to make some of your dreams happen, even if they are just little ones.

5. In your 4th painting called "Tuscany" is there a metaphorical meaning behind the 4 cypress trees on the right? Please share.

I laughed at this a bit. There is no relevance in the four trees. They are just four Cypress trees. The relevance in the picture is the connection of the whole place, the land connected to the sky and the water, the roots of the tree in the land that are so deep they reach beyond the sea, the vines of life that grow beyond their boundaries. In the 'worn frame' I painted are the ages of time that have held it all together, somewhat faded in places, but solid and strong, lasting. Simple, beautiful, all connected... all the parts are one, like everything in life. Humans, plants, animals,
from an atomic level to the very obvious... it's all the little things connected together that make a whole. Spirits to atoms to cells to tissue to bodies to human kind and far beyond.
That was a fun and interesting interview Chesca, thank you!

Do YOU want to be interviewed? Interview rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Viaggiatore ~ The Lion of Lyon Tail

I've adopted a Shameless Lion from Lyon, France. Everyone, please meet Viaggiatore. His name means 'traveler' in Italian. He comes from a rather large pride (he has 44 brothers and 3 sisters), all of which have been adopted into the excellent homes of the members of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle... of which I am also a member, and hence had the opportunity to bring Viaggiatore home. Here's his picture as it was on the morning I brought him here:

He wasn't here even a moment before he left his little pedestal in the photo and began to wander about the page. When last I saw him, he said he wanted to go watch the sun set on the ocean (we have a lovely view of the beach just outside the front window there....) and that is just where he headed off. I'm not surprised, really... after all, he is a traveler, and quite an interesting lion.

I will invite you to visit with us a bit, and find out more about him, as he has had quite an amazing journey getting here; the peace of this place is exactly what he needed.

Viaggiatore was once a single thought... just one idea. Long ago, a good Samaritan selflessly saved the life of another human, with no thought for his own safety. The Lord was so pleased at this act of love, that he offered the Samaritan a wish... anything he wanted. The Samaritan said he wished only to continue to do good, everywhere he went, without ever knowing it. The Lord granted this wish, and then decided that it was such a good idea, it ought to be everywhere, for everyone.

He created Viaggiatore as a thought... it is him, in those moments of kindness when we do not know the good we do for others, he is a passing idea... a traveling thought that steps gently within us, and then moves on. As Viaggiatore passed throughout the world touching others, he walked away with remnants of each step touching him, and these remnants created a tangible body for him. The beauty of a world in unity incarnate in the skin of a lion. If you click on his picture (the original) you can see an enlarged version of him.

His feet are covered with the flowers of fields and meadows that he has traversed, his legs and body are colored with the tides of every sea. On close inspection, you will discover images of shipwrecks and sea creatures emblazoned on his sides. The words of the world have covered his legs, and the likeness of continents he has passed through are evident on his hide. Viaggiatore's tail is adorned with miniature works of art that he loves, the most famous being Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa"... and just a little way further down his tail, he keeps a watch (so that we do not run on Scarlett time... he says to me with a sly smile). On his back, he proudly wears a small rug, gifted to him by the Maharishi in honor of the goodness and peace that Viaggiatore spreads. His mane is a wild abundance of flowers and blossoms, given to him by all the children of the world, in every country, it is fragrant and light, and when the wind dances in it, the scent fills the air with the sweetest fragrance ever known.

He wears two earrings in his left ear, one for unity, the other for peace. On his left rear paw, he wears a chain... put there by the evil chief of a jungle tribe (more on that later). When I offered to take if off, he declined... "oh no," he told me... "I am made of the places that I have passed through, like any of us, it is the good and the bad that make me who I am and I cannot discard those things in my life that weren't good, any more than you can. It gives me character anyway, don't you think?" So it remains. At his feet rests a book that he is never without. "Knowledge gives us the capacity to understand our world, and better it." he said. I haven't had a chance to look at the book yet, perhaps someday he will let me. The scarf he wears was a gift from me, I picked it up in Paris last April, and he liked it immediately, so I gave it to him.

His front left leg was injured in his escape from the evil chief of the jungle tribe, and I have bandaged it and called my cousin in Pittsburgh, Dr. T. Lyon, to ask her to mend it up for him. He will spend some time here, healing, and we will divulge the tail (excuse me... tale) of his great escape to you as the days pass. When he is quite himself again, Viaggiatore and I will be off to explore the world and go on many great adventures together. Each will be chronicled here, to share with you. Postcards home to our friends and family.

Thank you for being here, we look forward to visiting with you again soon.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Brownie Shenanigans and Disastrous Results

I had a disaster in my kitchen yesterday and immediately went to the best cook on the web... our dear Sognatrice, for help. It was so funny I had to share... this is our conversation:


I was trying to bake brownies. Yes, out of the box. Snip open the bag, dump it in the bowl with a large egg (okay... I have eggs, what size are these? do we care? it's an egg). I only recently found out that egg cartons have expiration dates on them.

1/4 c. veg oil


No vegetable oil. We'll use olive oil, it's extra light, virgin olive oil. I have no idea what that means, but I like the idea of pure cooking. Olives are in the fruit/veggie family. It'll work. Water. Can't screw that up, theoretically... right?

Bake at 350. 30-33 minutes in this size pan, 33-35 minutes in that size pan. Size matters not. I take a guess and figure I'll check it after half an hour or so.

There is a notation regarding altitude. Anything above 3000 feet. I am in Denver, it's a mile high. That's 5,280 feet. There's already too much math going on here. We'll skip it.

50 minutes later, the outside is crispy, the inside is STILL gooey and I finally become annoyed with having to wait so long and decide to cut the brownies and try one out. They are stuck to the pan and coming out in dry crusted but semi-gooey chunks from half way down.

They look edible... but I eat my own cooking, so who knows. EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. HORRIBLE...
Can I tell you how devastated I am that I can't eat a whole pan of chocolate turtle brownies!!!

The whole thing is going in the bin. I am going to the store to buy them in a little plastic box like I should have done to begin with, it would have saved time, probably money, and definitely my patience.....

What did I do wrong? Really? I'd like to think I could do something as simple as bake 9 lousy brownies, especially when they came in a box!!!!! Grr! Any advice? Thanks ever so much,


sognatrice said...

Oh Scarlett, my advice? Stay away from the oven!

No, seriously, take heed--a quick search uncovered a woman who suffered the same brownie fate at high altitude! There are some great tips on there, so never doubt the package directions regarding altitude again. This was most likely the cause of the Great Brownie Snafu of 2007.As for the oil dilemma, that probably didn't make a difference as you can use extra light version in place of vegetable oil without problems. Here's more info on using olive oil in general. Hope this helps, and best of luck the next time around :)

Sognatrice... Patron Saint of Kitchens... bless you eternally, and thank you SO much for the assist. I will continue to stay out of the kitchen and just order from my local delivery places, they are all on speed dial, all know me by first name, and would miss me were I to ditch them in favor of suicide by ingestion of the latest Scarlett dish. Sigh.

I had to get a jackhammer and an SOS pad with soap to get the pan clean.
I am cured of trying my hand in the kitchen. I'll just admire your food photos from across the world. Longingly.


Saturday, June 9, 2007

Killing me ever so softly

I am an old soul, and a wanderer. In my mind, in reality, in my heart, in my soul... in every fiber of my being that trembles with anticipation... curiosity... and yearning to move with the winds and touch every place I can find. It is the quintessence of my existence.
I sometimes wander to wondrous places, and sometimes, I miss the scent that somehow should have warned me away from others. Recently I found myself in a place, by chance, that is not a bad place for me to be, on the surface.
But my 'satiable curtiosity' (reference Rudyard Kipling's Elephants Child on this term and spelling), got the better of me, and I waded in deep. As deep as one can go.
There was a curtain shrouding the depths. As I inched in, the breeze of invitation and familiarity danced in the curtains, and I was slowly seduced into going further and further. With every step, it seemed that I was walking in a dream... some place I'd been before but had forgotten, and only vaguely recognized. So I continued, until I came upon a shock, quite unexpectedly. It took my breath away... but I stayed... and then there were more... here and there, around every bend. The shroud would move, gently, and each time I'd find myself looking into a mirror, but the face looking back at me was not mine. The strange face in the mirror would vanish and hide again for brief moments, and then reappear again, suddenly, clearly, and much closer than I could bear. Truth staring back at me with no grace.
I would close my eyes, and step away... no, this cannot be. This person, in this mirror, this stranger cannot know me so intimately, so deeply. I have walls up, I have a fortress around my heart and soul that no one can penetrate. The unfamiliar face, in the familiar place, could not possibly exist. I dreamed this person up... a figment of my fancies. A mirage. But there those eyes were... staring back into mine. Mocking me... "I know you... know you of old... you can hide nothing from me." There were words... so many words put together so carefully... crafted to shatter my walls with their quiet force, albeit unknowingly.
The words, the meanings, the truths hidden within were so clear to me, with a light as bright as the sun shining relentlessly on all the secret rooms and caverns of my heart... exposing everything I have so carefully tucked away... buried. I fell to my knees and begged, with tears streaming... anguished in such deep and terrible pain... no, please, no... say no more. Hide these truths from me that I have ignored into oblivion.
But they seared their way into my mind... and would not be forgotten.
In a feeble attempt to recover, I smiled through the tears and ache... I am fine, I lied. It's all a coincidence. These mirrored truths that flash mercilessly at me from a strangers eyes... they are all just mere irony... nothing real. Nothing...
But I could not turn away.
I have wandered too far... and when I realized the distance I'd gone, I knew I could not go back. I have neither the strength nor the willpower to move.
I can only lay in this bed of thorns until time eases the wounds and I am able to escape. Like a wounded dove, I will fly away... so far away, as soon as the possibility becomes reality.
In the meantime, I shall learn to dance on hot coals, and the bittersweet familiarity will not overcome me.
It may be killing me... ever so softly, but I have been near death before, and I do not fear it.
I will fly fast, and sure... and find other shores to wander on that will only know the footprints I've left behind.


Friday, June 8, 2007

7 X Mom

The license plate read "7 X Mom".

I was shocked. Scooped up my jaw and drove on by her minivan, the back of which was plastered in tell tale bumper stickers... honor roll, honor student, and various school mascot emblems.
Good thing they are smart kids. Who has seven kids these days? The FDA introduced the pill and everyone put a halt to huge families.

I pondered the ramifications.

7 x's labor and childbirth (OUCH!)
7 x's teething, potty training, baby sicknesses, sleepless nights, baby cargo (highchairs, carseats, strollers, playpens, walkers, etc. etc. etc....) doctor visits and shots... the logistics of mobility alone are staggering.
7 x's holidays & vacations (can you say KA-CHING)
7 x's clothes & shoes shopping
7 x's food prep and house cleaning
7 x's first days of school, school shopping, homework, sports, clubs, music and dance lessons, outings and parent teacher conferences.
7 x's drivers licences (OH MY GOSH... let's not even discuss insurance premiums then).
7 x's teenagers with raging hormones, attitudes and issues.... and their FRIENDS
7 x's graduations, colleges, and continuing education expenses

There are a couple of obvious benefits
7 x's tax deductions
7 x's (or 6...) built in babysitters, & help around the house, if you can get it).
7 x's the grandchildren (is this the payoff?)

I cannot begin to imagine 7. I have an uncle with 6 sons, and an aunt with 5 daughters. Still have no idea how they did it.

When is there sleep and rest? When is there one on one time with each child? When is there peace...? How many parents lay awake at night worrying about their kids... 7 x's over? How?

I hope it is wonderful for them, and I hope that it all works out really well. Maybe those honor roll kids will get scholarships and make the world a better place.

7 kids.


Thursday, June 7, 2007


Just finished my 4th painting (ever). I am calling this one "Tuscany". This is a menagerie of the geographical features of the region of Tuscany.
It is painted as though the viewer were looking out of a window (of course the window of an old villa or farmhouse, let's use our imaginations)... above ground (top of the painting) there are rolling green hills adorned with a field of red blossoms on the left and cypress trees on the right. At the top right corner, in the lightest area, a vine is growing (yes, grape vine... think vino), almost out of nowhere into the room we are looking out of. It is taking over, as vines tend to do. The vine also grows down into the lower part of the painting, which (if you back up just a bit) you will see is the sea... a very light shade of blue, almost baby blue. I know the sea isn't that color there, but work with me here. It's a metaphor. The vine connects to the plant life under the waves... which make up the line between the water and the hills... yes, those are waves. big ones. The trees' roots also go into the sea, and like the vine, they stretch and grow beyond their boundaries too.

The idea is that there are many parts of Tuscany that connect, to make a whole... to make one place, and it is all of these things that make it a place I would love to be in the resting years of my life. And on several visits before then... ;o)


The silent killer... a battle with cancer

Shelley (at home in Rome) has recently posted a blog that must be seen, and it's message spread. What's the message?

Fatty ( (Elden) is a fellow blogger who has begun a battle to save his wife from cancer. One of the readers of his blog went to Shelley for advice and assistance in fulfilling a wish, a dream for Susan (Fatty's incredible wife, and mother of their 4 children). She's starting chemo now, and when she gets a break from it, she wants to go to Italy for a visit. She'll need one by the time that break comes, but it will be difficult for them to accomplish this. There are already several creative ideas and plans under way to help Fatty and Susan reach their destination. We have been asked to do what we can. I have pledged to support their efforts and spread the word about their story.

A couple of options from Shelley's blog are:

Here's how YOU can help:

1) Spread the word about this through emails and links back to this post or to Elden's posts.

2) Do you live in Italy? Have you traveled to Italy before? Even if not, can you think of a creative way you could contribute to making their trip a reality? Expats and non-expats alike are all welcome to pitch in! If you would be willing to share your knowledge, expertise or resources regarding Italy and a trip to Italy, please let me know via email (ahirswap AT gmail DOT com), mentioning what specifically you would be able to contribute. Creativity is best. For example...

If you're a tour guide in Italy, could you offer a free tour?
Know a creative way to help them save money on their trip?
Do you have anything useful you could donate to them that would be helpful during their trip? (A few leftover euros or bus tickets from a prior vacation, maps, guide books, a care package of things you think they could use on their vacation, etc. etc. etc.?)
Have a list of things they should see, with personal tips from your own experience? Personal restaurant recommendations?Let your imagination run wild!

3) You can purchase one of Elden and Twin Six's special-edition pink lemonade jerseys, available in men's and women's sizes. The profits from the jerseys will actually go three ways (as copied below from Elden's blog):

Treatment: Copays, deductibles, and possibly expenses for traveling for clinical trials. It all adds up.

LiveStrong: As I’ve recently mentioned, I’m now a big fan of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They’ve helped us, and now I want to give back. When you buy a pink Fat Cyclist jersey, a third of the net goes to the LiveStrong foundation.

A Trip to Italy: When Susan’s ready to go, I’m taking her on a vacation to Italy. And if you buy a jersey, in a sense you’re taking her, too. Which is not to say that
you’re invited to come along.

Myself, I am buying some of the pink lemonade jerseys. I am sharing this effort with others, and I am referring back to Shelley's blog and Fatty's blog.

Please be a part of something truly good... pay it forward, and help make a dream come true.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Soundtrack of my life

If you could put your life to music... what songs would define you and your life? The Single City Chick posted a blog that inspired me to ask this question, and find out the answers!!
Leave a comment with your list, or a link to your blog with your list... what are your songs?

Here are Scarlett's...

1. Beethoven's 5th symphony (I. Allegro con brio) - I am born... it is a sketchy beginning but I make it and become very strong

2. Disney's Cinderella, A dream is a wish your heart makes - I am one of those little girls who stares into the sky with my chin in my hands and a daydream on my mind... oh wait. I still do that.

3. Patsy Cline, Sweet Dreams - ahhh the angst of adolescence and young love/crushes

4. Great White, The Angel Song - I long to escape my teen years

5. Peter Cetera, The Glory of Love - I believe myself to be rescued by the prince of my romantic dreams

6. Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake & the Nutcracker - My romantic ideals take definite shape

6.5 John Lennon, Imagine - My political ideals also take shape

7. Tina Turner, Better be good to me - Reality sets in, my prince is a frog

7.5 Tchaikovsky, 1812 Overture - I win some battles & lose some battles

8. R. Kelly, I believe I can fly - I find my own strength and my life takes wings

8.5 Gene Kelly, Singing in the rain - I learn that I love raindrops and lemonade, but you can't have them without storms and lemons

9. Temptations, My girl - there is no blessing like all the many little girls in my life

10. Louis Armstrong, What a wonderful world & La Vie en Rose - aside from occasional thorns, my life is idyllic because I choose to make it/see it that way

There you are, top 10 and then some... I left out a lot, but where's the room for all of it?
If I did it again, I'd choose different songs for different reasons.

And you? What does the soundtrack of your life look like? Post it here in comments! I would love to see.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

To Bee or not to Bee... and the Boy

Some friends and I were discussing the dynamics of bumble bees this week. All the laws of physics prove that it is impossible for the bumble bee to fly. But no one told the bee that, so he just keeps right on doing his thing. Bee-ing himself. Going along without a single thought to physics or gravity or the laws of the universe, according to man. He disregards all of them completely.

I love that.

It reminds me of Kevin Max's "Be" (be yourself, don't let the losers tell you what to do... and be no one else, because if you don't, then who is going to?) Kevin is one of my all time favorites.

I was recently graced with the joy of being in the company of another little one who cares not what the world may think. He also goes about his own way and blissfully does his own thing; within the boundaries of permission, but just barely, and it's a charming quality in him.
This boy played his own version of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"... very much in the style of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, in more ways than one.

Follow your dreams, and do what you love, as long as it doesn't hurt others... let nothing hold you back. Especially the voice of someone else telling you that you can't. Bee-cause...

Of course you can!