Monday, November 28, 2005

And So the Mood Changed

A day beginning dreary, sluggish and gray turned, like the afternoon sun, drying Heaven's teardrops off the leaves and grass. It was a good hair day.

It's Going to be a Bad Hair Day

I thought summer was supposed to be over by November, especially the end of November. It's pouring rain, humid and I have a 6 hour HR workshop to sit through today - it is definitely going to be a bad hair day. Or, maybe it's a reflection of my mood.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

St Marks Wildlife Refuge

Friday was a tranquil trip to St. Marks Wildlife Refuge and Wakulla Springs State Park. It certainly was a beautiful day, in many ways. The photos are from St. Marks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Birth of a New Life

Upon kissing him goodbye, I walked back to my apartment, half-looking over my shoulder to see him get into the car. I didn't wait to see him drive off. I knew he was leaving, gone. I carried a bittersweet mix of sadness, contentment and relief up the stairs, shut and locked the door to return to the haven of my world.

Naively reaching for bait of empty promises, over the years I continued giving bits of my private self, my inner thoughts and feelings; bits of my soul. I find it difficult to share these with others, but I believed he was different. I trusted wrongly and regrettably, I ignored myself. I was stupid. I followed my heart when I should have followed my head. I hoped - but hope is for suckers.

It took my falling into a black hole, restlessness for more out of my life, maybe even a mid-life crisis, to realize the error of my ways. To realize that everyone else but me was right. I HATE being wrong (stubbornness, trait of a Taurus). Starting a new life has helped, but I still needed my closure.

The first day of his visit was good, it was Thanksgiving, but later that evening, it all clicked. There's no love. The next day, I didn't say much. I didn't want to invest any more of myself, I couldn't bare to do it. I let barriers encompass me, it's safer. Maybe he noticed, maybe he didn't.

And finally, I felt that every bit of my soul that I had given him has been reclaimed. He didn't give it back, somewhere, I found it. Despite still loving him, I found the strength to close the door.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Julianna Baggott: A Somebody

Yesterday, Tallahassee author Julianna Baggott, aka N.E. Bode, presented a workshop at the downtown library. I only caught the tail end, as I thought it was geared to young (under 18) authors. Step by step, she and the audience worked out an outline for a novel. Afterwards, she signed books - which make the perfect holiday gift! The library also hosted their annual book sale.

Full Circle for the Mandala

Yesterday was the final day of the sacred sand mandala at the Mary Brogan Museum. Since I had dutifully witnessed the daily progress of this creation to bring about peace, I needed to be there when it was dismantled. As you can see by the images, it was the largest crowd I've seen all week and I didn't have a very good spot, but, I was there.

All of the monks gathered around the mandala donning gold and red caps and then the mechanical, eerie chanting began. The chanting was broken by up by a drum, symbols and pipes. The intensity of the ceremony drowned out the roars of the dinosaur exhibit.

After three cycles of this, the eldest monk walked around the mandala, then reached out to push the sand into the center, creating a cross. All that hard work that I'd witnessed throughout the week, transformed, melded. Once he was done, the younger monks continued to chant and brushed the sand into a pile in the center. It was a a grayish-blue color with hints of yellow. Small bags of the sand were then distributed to everyone who wanted some - to either place around the exterior of the home to bless it or to sit on the mantle (mine's sitting on my shelf, next to my stone Buddha head).

Following the ceremony, the monks were to take the sand to Lake Ella and disperse it into the water, return it to the universe and bless the area. And who said there's not much happening in Tallahassee?

[Click here to view Day 1]
[Click here to view Day 2]
[Click here to view Day 3]
[Click here to view Day 4]
[Click here to view Day 5]

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Almost Done

Yesterday, I brought a couple of colleagues with me to see the Buddhist monks work on their masterpiece. We walked from the office through Tallahassee's downtown to the Mary Brogan - it was a sunny, crisp fall day - a day made for walking. I'm glad we walked - not only for the exercise benefit but better able to see more of the town's nooks.

And on this day, we were among the largest group of spectators to the process that I've seen this week. Maybe word has spread throughout town. I'm glad more people were there - I was starting to feel like a stalker!

This afternoon, the vibrant mandala will be dismantled and dispersed at Lake Ella. The monks then return to the museum to bless the women participating in Goddess night (nope - I'm not participating in that, although, if I had planned better, I would have considered it).

[click here to see Day 1]
[click here to see Day 2]
[click here to see Day 3]
[click here to see Day 4]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Food for the Soul

Day four of the visiting Buddhist monks' brief time at Tallahassee's Mary Brogan Museum. Mother Nature finally blew in autumn temperatures and I enjoyed my trip downtown to see the progress my new-found friends have made. They are coming along quite well, making headway in completing the mandala. In speaking with their translator, they haven't had much time to get out and explore the community but they did get to the coast and saw alligators. Their next stop is Miami - I hope they're prepared for the wildlife they'll spot there.

Walking back to my car, I finally took notice of the food cart in the plaza. Vegan soul food - I treated myself to a vegan gyro which was tasty - just the right spices. The cart has been there for four years, serving tasty, animal-friendly meals five days a week, 11 AM - 4 PM. And, they'll cater your party.

[click here to see Day 1]
[click here to see Day 2]
[click here to see Day 3]

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

And on the Third Day

I trotted down to the museum today to see how the visiting Buddhist monks were coming along. The vibrant colors and precise detail is inspiring. The artists were eating lunch in a room next door. One hand held a bowl of noodles while the other manipulated chopsticks. Brought back memories of Japan.

I then wondered if they felt like I did while on my month-long journey. Wondered if they felt like a paraded spectacle, surrounded by strange faces and language. Wondered if they smiled and nodded in agreement in response to funny yacking, and not knowing what they are agreeing to (once, I nodded in agreement and found myself naked in a public bath). I wondered if they looked for familiar faces in a sea of strangeness, like I would while walking the streets of rural Japan. And upon finding one, I stretched my neck to make eye contact and share a moment of unspoken empathy.

Each of our missions are the same, create pockets of peace.

[click here for Day 1]
[click here for Day 2]

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

QKGirl at the Speed of Light

High-speed Internet - what a beautiful thang :)

Peace is Tangible

Sacred Sand Mandala Day 2

I was surprised to see the progress the Buddhist monks have been making on the sand mandala today. Big difference from 24 hours earlier.

When I first arrived, the monks were taking a lunch break so I started talking to another woman who was taking it in. It was interesting speaking to her and learning that she and her family have lived in Tallahassee for about 17 years, yet she says it's difficult to find out about things going on. Hmmm, a spark was reignited in me...

Once the artists returned from their break, they continued to work on the mandala for peace. They take two hallow, metal tubes and place the sand in one. They then hold the sand-filled tube over an area and use the second to lightly tap the sand out and create a design. It was incredible to see the precise detail in a lotus flower - the dimension and look of texture.

Since I've made it a goal to visit daily, I'm considering changing my weekend plans...

[click here to see Day 1]

Monday, November 14, 2005

Let Me 'Splain My Interest...

Todaiji Temple in Nara, Japan
I find religion fascinating ~ the way it has controlled and maybe provided order to society over the centuries. I'm a confirmed Catholic, although being divorced, I'm really not welcomed there any more. I wonder what the Pope will say to me when I show up on his doorstep in a couple of years with a few of my pals - Annette and Val - you're still in, right? Anyway...

I grew up in a bi-religious home (is that the correct terminology?). Nothing drastic - my Mom is Catholic and my Dad is Lutheran. Being very young, I remember they asked me which church I wanted to go attend.

Prior to that, me and my siblings attended both churches and at the time, the only difference between the two that I could decipher was that the Lutheran church service seemed to last for HOURS while Father Hamerial at Our Lady of Peace had us out in 45 minutes. I did weigh the other benefits of attending my Dad's church, he was an elder and had status - which guaranteed prime seating and "the blood" (wine) was served in shot glasses while the Catholics shared a goblet. The church-goers seemed more friendlier than the Catholics and hung out afterwards with coffee and donuts.

But still, I chose the road to Catholicism and my siblings followed. All of us were confirmed; despite my younger sister questioning things (as we were supposed to do).

While working in Yellowstone National Park, I was introduced to the Campus Crusade for Christ (born-agains), Mormons (what kind of religion forbids chocolate??? But if you're in Salt Lake City, take the tour of the "compound," the history and theory is intriguing) and the cult Church Universal Triumphant (and what kind of religion protects itself with armed militants???). While working in the Everglades, I was introduced to different kinds of Buddhism, including Jain (who are very limited in their diet - no meat, no tomatoes and nothing that is grown in the ground - to avoid the worm poop, which is considered dirty). Recently, I've studied Wicca and sang alongside President Jimmy Carter at his Southern Baptist Church (ok, there were a few Secret Service Agents between me and him).

But, my month-long visit to Japan last year was truly life-altering. My first host-father designed and carved Buddhist furniture. I was taken to many temples and through broken English, limited understanding of the Japanese language and lots of hand gestures, I learned a little bit more about this unfamiliar religion. And how it all began with little Buddha sitting on the lotus leaf...

The image above was taken in Nara. It was supposed to go in last year's Christmas cards (ok - unintentional irony) but the cards never made it out.

The Buddhists Are Here!

Sacred Sand Mandala Day 1

Buddhist monks from Tibet's Drepung Gomang Monastery are in Tallahassee, Fla. this week , a stop on "The Sacred Art of the Land of the Snow" North American Tour. The tour's purpose is to share the compassion, wisdom and generate wisdom of the Tibetan Buddhist culture with North Americans.

Throughout the week, the monks will be interacting with Tallahassee residents on different levels, including creating a Sacred Sand Mandala (various geometric designs symbolizing the universe and used in meditation). In the foyer of the Mary Brogan Museum, the group of monks work on their knees designing. Each day, between 10 AM - 5 PM, they will work on it through Friday, Nov. 18. On Saturday, Nov. 19, the mandala will be taken to Lake Ella where it will be returned to the universe, via Lake Ella.

I plan on visiting them each day and will capture their progress. Unfortunately, I will not be in town Saturday to join them in the final celebration.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Fair to (kind of) Remember

North Florida Fair

Tonight I experienced another one of Tallahassee's cultural attractions, the North Florida Fair. I used to love going to the local county fair when growing up in Buffalo. I've never been a fan of the midway - the rides and games - but more into the exhibits and livestock (ok, I'm a big geek!). I went with a group of friends tonight and although I didn't get to see any of the exhibits (we were too late to see them), I did have a good time.

Who wouldn't love the fair - the aroma of fair food - meats on sticks, fried doughs and wisp of sugary clouds (aka: cotton candy); the people watching - gals wearing 5" stiletto heals and their guys wearing sunglasses at 11 PM; breathtaking rides to replicate the feeling of flying.

My two highlights of the evening:

  • "The Barrel of Death" (or something like that). Two former stunt men road motorcycles on the interior of a giant wooden barrel. According to them, since their jobs are so dangerous, health insurance won't cover them so tips are appreciated, however, they earn their tips (like a stripper, I suppose). With my dollar bill folded in half and wrist rested on the metal cable circling the top of the barrel, one of the stunt men road a go-cart looking thing (and I think powered by a lawn mower engine) at some ridiculously high speed and grabbed mine and other dollars. I have to admit, I thought this was going to be cheesy but was pretty impressive to see.
  • A deep-fried Twinkie. I had heard about this and finally got to taste the curiosity. For $3.00, I received a hot, deep-fried Twinkie (which was dipped in batter, then fried) sprinkled with powered sugar. Have to admit, it was "yum-o."

Ah, the fair. Can't wait until the next one...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Quirky Kitsch Girl
I recently acquired a new camera and am loving it. Earlier this week I found out that one of my stories will be published but needs a headshot for the writer's section. Does this one work?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Catching Up With My Past

The weekend was spent catching up with myself. Organizing (and cleaning) my apartment. Thinking about my future, trying to forget the past (at least the bad). My friend Matt called today (one of my Japan buddies). For being so young, he's so insightful. I envy that about him. My sushi-making class was postponed due to the impact of Hurricane Wilma but rescheduled for December - I can't wait! Kathy (another Japan buddy) will be joining me.

I also updated a couple of blog entries, if you'd like to get caught up:
New York in 1860 Minutes
Bogging Through Apalachicola National Forest

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Checking In

I really don't have much to say - well, I actually do. There's a lot to say, but it's all clogged, or choked. A bit of numb apathy, too. I just know I need to find some sort of personal motivation. I have some, and I'm moving forward in reaching my personal goals. I want more, I'm impatient.

I have spent some time with family and friends over the past few months, and those were good. With people I don't get to see everyday. I received a surprised package from a Yellowstone buddy, much needed after a draining week following Hurricane Wilma. A squirrel is storing its acorns in my car. What's in store next? We'll see.