Category Archives: It’s An Aberrant Life

Words for my 17-year-old self…


Sweet girl, seize a little more confidence.

You are more capable than you think.

And the county reporter’s job isn’t that bad.

Keep the music degree.

But for the love of Grandpa, take some business and finance classes and join the debate team.

Take an acting class.

Enter more speech competitions.

I promise, if you don’t, you’ll wish you had.

Keep composing.

Stop hesitating on those ideas of yours.

The window won’t be open long.

Get to know your professors.

They would like you to talk to them more, I promise.

Ask Grandpa to talk about the wars.

Stay in touch with JC.

Don’t stop writing letters.

Love yourself enough to have boundaries.

You have a right to safety.

When you head to California next year, take advantage of every opportunity, including sound advice.

Go to Magic Mountain with your friends.

Go on the ski trip.

I know you don’t have the money.

Find a way. It will be worth it.

That campus will close, and you won’t have the time left that you thought.

Also, don’t talk to strangers in CA.

And don’t walk alone.

You have no idea the danger there.

Thankfully a few of your friends do, and they will watch out for you.

Speaking of, you will make many new friends–don’t be afraid of them.

When Elaine asks you to call, don’t forget.

Don’t.

When you head to Texas the year after that, take advantage of every opportunity.

Adopt others into your family.

Take breaks just for yourself.

Accept those free horseback riding lessons!

Sleep more.

It’s not laziness, I promise.

Grades aren’t everything.

You are going to break your immune system, so stop it now.

And stop sacrificing sleep because a friend needs to talk.

They can talk to you in the morning. I promise–you won’t miss anything.

Friendship should never bring you to the brink of death.

Don’t get the tonsillectomy, but do see the surgeon in New Orleans.

Remember the people who show up.

Open yourself to new career ideas and swap to a better major.

Watch out for the math classes, though.

That plan of yours to take all your high school math when you were 14, so your grades stayed high?

Yeah, it doesn’t work out so well when you wait a few years before taking college algebra II.

Your authenticity is a strength, not a weakness.

And your loyalty is a breath of fresh air.

Stop beating yourself up for being honest; it’s what your friends count on.

And don’t be timid about keeping up with your relationships.

You may feel awkward and afraid, but so is everyone else your age.

And most of your friends in college have no idea that you’re terrified.

They don’t see you the way you do.

One day those relationships will save your life.

And one day, many will pass away.

Your choice to call and write everyone you can is the right one, even if you don’t get to everyone.

So don’t give up.

Dare to define yourself.

Dare to create something worthy.

Trust your gut.

When it tells you to run, don’t hesitate.

It’s the right choice–never to violate your conscience.

Stop doubting what you know to be true.

It’s OK not to know where the next step is sometimes.

Love hard.

That and compassion will get you everywhere you need to be.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s God’s will that you be barren.

And don’t you ever feel ashamed for challenging the system.

ANY system.

When your body changes, love it.

She’s so much stronger and heartier than you realize.

Everything you need truly is inside you.

And the right people will accept all of you.

Keep your mind and body plastic.

Keep researching.

Keep writing in your journal.

Take a risk making new friends.

And label those photos.

Above all else–

Love and believe in yourself.

I do.


September 3, 2022
8:13am

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Risk, Dare, Believe in Yourself

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Stop Waiting for Something to Happen…


Stop waiting. Stop wishing.

Stop holding out for the perfect thing–or someone.

And allow yourself to taste Life.

I promise you, stagnation isn’t a Life well Lived.

Or Loved.

And never mistake stagnation for Peace.

Allow yourself to be uncomfortable.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

At least sometimes.

Risk is everywhere.

And in every one.

Yet so are the greatest of treasures.

As I’ve shared before, one of two things will happen.

Either you’ll take the next breath.

Or you won’t.

Risk is in the very air we breathe.

All creation comes with inherent risk.

So there’s no sense in being frozen while time flows into oblivion.

You might as well breathe deep and smell the rain.

Or the coffee. Or the Italian Tex-Mex restaurant around the corner.

Rest in the Now.

Breathe in deeply and savor what the Universe delights in bringing to your doorstep.

She is so excited for you–if only you could See.

You made it here against all odds.

Maybe take note of that. Like Hey.

Soak up the Miracle of those things showing up in your life now.

Celebrate that with Trust.

You might as well dig your toes deep into Mother Earth and let her hold you.

You might as well look beyond the surface of things and see what a Creative Life, consciously Lived, looks like.

Or, for that matter, a Creative Love.

Have you truly looked at the hearts around you?

Have you dared to bear Witness and see their Souls?

And dared to let them Remember yours?

Have you truly accepted and given friendship–unconditionally?

You may get hurt.

I can’t promise you won’t.

But I can promise that if you genuinely Love and Live…

The means to come back to Life after a crash are also there.

Risk is about Receiving as much as anything.

Stop waiting to Live.

And Love.

And Breathe.

And Receive.

Stop waiting for permission to Exist.

Stop hesitating just when things get good.

Stop judging the Universe when it toddles over and places its gifts in your lap.

Dare to live unconditionally.

Dare to love and give unconditionally.

Dare to receive and feel unconditionally.

Dare to face fear and ego.

Dare to value what others can not see.

Dare to share life, give life, and taste life with others.

Dare to Adventure.

And dare to dig deep and Believe.

Believe that you are powerfully Favored.

Believe that you have all the art supplies you need.

Believe that you deserve to be a Creator.

Before it’s too late.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.”
— Jack Kornfield, Buddha’s Little Instruction Book.


August 11, 2022
11:11pm

Copyright © 2022, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

A frozen rose will surely die

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Surviving Tornadoes


Just finished assessing my trees after the tornadoes in the Austin, TX area last night. The supercenter all over the news is the one near our house. We were at that Home Depot just a couple hours before the tornadoes came. My daughter needed paint sealant and I needed to mail a package.

My trees are old-growth, 2-3+ stories tall. One of the live oak clusters is suspected to be 2-300 years old, and our house was designed around it. There are 20+ trees on our city lot. One of the features that drew John and me to this place. This neighborhood was built around the trees in the 70s–they didn’t clear-cut them.

One of my cedar elms near the street has had a broken branch caught in its top since the polar vortex storms last year. I haven’t tried to get it down yet. Well, it’s gone now. And the top was snapped off another tree.

In the meantime, absolutely NO debris on our streets within a couple of blocks of our house. No twigs, no gravel–nothing. The roads look vacuumed and washed.

I saw the wind change in the rain yesterday–when it took on a pulse in its blustering. The rain and wind were so hard that they created a sheet that looked like a wall. I’m used to that. Spring storms here are like that. And when the wind is really blowing, the rain turns sideways. We see that sort of thing when the hurricanes come inland through our area–sideways rain. Not really a surprising thing.

But then it turned different. The rain started pulsing as it rained sideways. It looked like morse code pulsing in the sideways blowing rain. Like smoke signals in a drumbeat that you could see in the sideways rain–as if you could see the sound.

But it stopped about as quickly as it started.

I also found bits of insulation in the backyard. I thought it was feathers floating out of the trees, but it wasn’t. Looking up into my trees, there may be some debris caught in them.

After my experiences surviving tornadoes in OK and TX, I have sober respect for them. I’m also familiar with many other stories through the Red Cross, back when mom provided disaster relief training in OK and as her classroom assistant, I’d watched every training film available.

Our house was damaged but passed over by a tornado when I was 7 years old. An event called “Terrible Tuesday.” Our house stood while our neighbors’ on every side weren’t as lucky.

I’ve never forgotten what that was like, the damage, or how long it took our family to recover.

I think a tornado passed over our house yesterday. And I’m so grateful.

Storm

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Filed under Austin, Community, Friends and Family, It's An Aberrant Life, Random Thoughts

Minding My Tabs…


There are 666 tabs open on my Firefox browser.

I’ve officially gone to the dark side…

Where they have tabs.

Browser tabs

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The Room…


The room is full, a straggling chair or two in the corner.
Men vs. women, about 50/50.

There are no more blocked-out spaces, but every face is masked nonetheless.

“Have you traveled anywhere outside of the country in the last 4 months?”
“I’m a teacher. I can’t afford to go anywhere.”
There’s a hesitant chuckle. “Hopefully that… will improve, ma’am.”
“Even if things improve, I’ll still be a teacher.”

The room’s chatter is low, respectful.
Broken only by an occasional voice from the front.

The voice calls out, “I have three more names on the booaaard….”

The room pauses as everyone turns to look.
Three people stand up. The low murmur returns.

A farmer from Tennessee meets a farmer from Corpus Christi.
They may not shake hands, but their friendly voices do.
A third aged voice chimes in, “My late husband used to farm in East Texas.”

Mixed southern accents discuss the impact of hurricanes in the east on the crops.

“How’s your cotton doing?”
“It’s alright. We’ll go to harvest in September.”
“We’re a little earlier than that. How’s your corn though?”
“We didn’t get enough rain in spite of that hurricane.”
“Your fields on irrigation?”

Everyone listens, quietly appreciative of the social ease found in this place.

A woman gets up to go check on something,
phone in hand, leaving her purse on the floor, open.
There’s a solidarity in the room. Not only will no one
bother her purse, no one would dare to.

It’s a fraternity that no one chooses to join–but it is one nonetheless.

The woman returns to her open bag. A man wearing a backpack,
a leg brace, and carrying a telescoping cane limps by her side.
A glance at their wrists tells you–she’s the patient, not him.

The room is a sea of silver hair, spotted with dye jobs. In 45 minutes
of polite waiting, only 3 patients appear to be under the age of 60.
Two are quiet, unabashedly former or current military. Only one,
quiet, lanky 20-something in the room. He is my son.

I see the faces look toward my son. Their eyes soften as they
see him next to me. I’m used to it. My son stares at his phone.

A look around the room tells you, most of these people came here
alone. A few with spouses. What a good son they know mine must be.

“I wish my son were here.” The barely audible whisper echoes
across hidden faces and watery eyes. What a good son.
He is, but they don’t know why.

The board on the wall changes. “I have new names on the booaaard…”

And there he is.

My son stands up, in his tank top and camping shorts. He
ambles to the front of the cancer lab. Startled looks spread
across the space, a wave bouncing from one wall to the next.

“Hi, Mr. Chambers. Have you had a fever this week?
Let’s get your bracelet printed.”
—-

July 12, 2021
1:11pm

Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

If you found this page because your family is fighting glioblastoma and you need support, please visit https://frellcancer.wordpress.com for some helpful resources.

Place used pens here.

PS I am still looking for full-time work to cover cancer care at MDA. If you know anyone who needs a writer, I would be grateful for an introduction.

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Sanctuary…


It’s raining, but my backyard is filled with birds and squirrels—even the rosy red minnows in my ponds love the rain.

Yesterday I saw the cutest baby squirrel inch its way down to the pond’s edge to drink and then munch on one of my water lilies that were blooming right at the edge.

I had no idea that squirrels could eat lilies—nor could I have imagined the sweetness of a baby squirrel face gingerly buried into a snowy water lily! Wish I could have whipped out my camera in time to show you, but it did not last even a moment.

Cardinals and sparrows bring their babies to the feeders. Dove, robins,
blue jays, titmice, chickadees, wrens, mockingbirds—they’re all regulars.

It calls back memories of Grandma Dot, who always
had a metal drum filled with bird seed sitting on her back porch,
some recycled Parkay and Coolwhip tubs to scoop with,
and a rainbow of birds lined along her fence.
Like pigeons on a telephone wire, they would sit
and wait for her every morning to open the door.

Cardinals were her favorite, and I always think of her
when I see our cardinal families come to visit.

Occasionally I see a hummingbird or hawk here
(there’s a cast of Cooper hawks in our neighborhood).

One of the last times I saw a hawk in our backyard,
it flew off with a baby snake! It was right after John died.

I looked up from my computer to see the hawk sitting on my back fence,
seemingly staring right through me before he dove for the snake.

Recently I’ve also seen meadowlark, kingbird, and goldfinch!
Not many yellow birds visit, so it’s always lovely to see them.

If the local monk parakeets ever find my backyard,
it’ll make my whole year.

My yard is a bit wild and definitely not manicured,
and I surely don’t know how to garden,
but it holds songs and peace for me.
It’s my blessing place.

#LoveMyBackyard


April 30th, 2021
2:24pm

Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Water Lily Pond

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Remember When…


I have a love-hate relationship with each digital app that shows me memories.

I mean, it’s not bad. It really isn’t.

In some ways, it helps me to reconnect pieces of my life, so there’s more in my line of sight than just this crisis or that.

But there’s no denying that being faced with a sudden memory can have an emotional impact at an inconvenient time.

John’s smiling face in a hospital room.

My kids when they were little.

Conversations with friends who have passed away.

Memories from a time that was less “responsible.”

Memories around old goals. Dreams unspoken.

Memories from before deployments.

From before Cancer.

From before Death.

From before.

Before…

These inconvenient memories pop up while I must be serious
and keep my game face on.

Making up for my shitty memory.

Oh yeah. That’s right. I was going to…

Waves crashing…

Is that even bad?

Probably not.

We’ve tried to create a world where public perception and professionalism always mean never showing what’s really happening under the surface.

Never let them see the mud–unless artfully displayed.

Always have a show closet near the door.

A YouTube corner.

Selective reality.

But is that healthy?

Is it natural?

Is it destructive denial in the long term?

Life is full of challenges, some bigger than others.

And that’s how we grow as humans.

Life has always been in the overcoming.

In the transmutation.

It has always been about becoming bigger than our initial perspectives.

Digging through challenges and beliefs–layered deeper than we thought possible.

Reframing our viewpoints.

Dawning new understanding.

Digging into why we’re really here.

What meaningful thing can I learn in this experience that can serve others?

Surviving is surviving.

But to THRIVE, we must grow.

We must transmute.

But that requires acknowledging reality as it is.

In order to transmute it into something better.

Anyway…

Facebook showed me memories today, including a memory of profound words spoken by my son a year ago.

Somehow I needed to hear them again today.

And while I’m inconveniently emotional, I think I’m also grateful…


April 8, 2021
9:22pm

Copyright © 2021, Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. No part of my post, writing, or words may be copied and shared without my express written permission and attribution.

Memories

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Gig Hunting On Social Media…


Shenanigans with Algorithms

Taken from actual job suggestions I’ve received on social media in the last month….

Digital Woman AI Algorithm: Hey Julia, I have job suggestions for you!

Me: Great! Show me what you’ve got!

AI: “Technical Writer!”

Me: Totally makes sense. I am a writer after all. Let me look at what industry that’s in.

AI: I have others, do you want to see them?

Me: Sure, what’d you find?

AI: “YouTube Media Manager.”

Me: Eh, close-ish. I don’t really specialize in the videography side of the social media pool.

AI: How about “Temperature Taker” or “COVID-19 Test Administrator?”

Me: Nooo. I mean, we have a cancer patient at home and really wouldn’t want to risk that. And I don’t have any formal medical certification either. But I guess there’s a wide-spread need for people to do that job right now. I understand why you might ask. Thanks anyway, AI.

AI: There’s “Office Clerk” and “Personal Assistant.”

Me: Eh, not quite the field I’m aiming for, AI. I hope you didn’t ask because I’m a woman.

AI: I know! “Medical Device Quality Engineer” or “Pharmacist!” Or there’s “Veterinary Technician!”

Me: Uh, nooo. I do write for the healthcare industry, so I can see why your wires are crossed there, AI.

AI: “Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist!”

Me: Um… nooo?

AI: There’s “Nursery Worker” and “Toddler Teacher.”

Me: Look AI, I know I’m a seasoned Mom, but I’m not looking for that kind of work. I’m a writer. Remember?

AI: How about “Full fabrication and installation of quartz and natural stone countertops?”

Me: Excuse me?

AI: Or “Shuttle Driver” or “Car Wash Attendant?”

Me: What? No!

AI: “Farm Hand.”

Me: Now you’re just making stuff up!!

AI: FINE! Be a “Sheriff Department Jailer” then!

Me: 😑

Copyright © 2021 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved. Julia has more than 25 years of experience as a freelance writer, content creator, and editor.

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Perspective…


Young Lady 1: “Walmart clothes are so expensive! They want $13 for just regular old jeans.

Older Lady 2: “I’ve even seen some there that are even $20 dollars.”

Young Lady 1: “It’s too much! And $10 for a 3-pack pair of socks! It’s not like somebody’s grandmother is spending hours knitting them. They’ve got machines to do that. There’s no reason for them to cost so much.”

Overheard in a small town thrift shop that I passed through today.

Too many thoughts in my head on this one….

#perspective

Socks for sale

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Early for the Ball…


I dreamed Uber showed up 15 minutes too early
to pick me up for the ball–and I wasn’t dressed yet.

My kids were all yelling at me,
“Mom, Mom, Mommmmm!”

And I’m all grumbly.

“But I have 15 minutes. My hair looks stupid.”

“Mom, hurry! They can’t just wait on you!”

Why not… grumble…. fine. Ugh.

I start pulling my red studded cowboy boots on.

Good thing my kids were there in my dream
to yell at me and wake this Cinderella up.

I accidentally turned my alarm off this morning.

Would have missed my meeting.

red studded cowboy boots - the best anniversary gift Texas

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The Pressing…


My personal philosophy is that Life is in the Overcoming.

There is no grace without choice.

I don’t always understand the overcoming, but I know that
growth is impossible without overcoming something.

Steve Whyte describes it as a pressing–like grapes for wine.

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A Mother’s Surreal Moment #5847…


“Oh!  Mom! Mom!” my sophomore son says to me.

“I forgot to tell you! Today in PE, Coach was frustrated with the little kids, so we got to rip the squeakers out of their rubber chickens.”

I blink at him.  My kids attend a K-12 school and often help out with the lower grades.

But the phrase “rip the squeakers out” presents a picture of some rather strange carnage.  Maybe even some mayhem.

“PE? Rubber chickens? Why do the little kids have rubber chickens in PE class?”

“I don’t know, to wave around or something,” he says to me, clapping his hands and grinning mischievously from ear to ear.

“And look!  I got to keep some!”

He whips something from his pocket and holds up a fist full of white tubes.

“And guess what?!”

He declares more than asks.

“I figured out that they all make different notes. So I labeled them and…”

And while I’m still blinking at him, he holds the tubes together in his hand like some sort of modified pan flute and…

…begins to play Smoke On The Water.

With squeakers stripped from the necks of rubber chickens.

That, my friends, is metamorphosis.

And my musically talented son.

#ThisIsMySurrealLife

#AndILoveEveryMomentOfIt

Rubber chicken squeaker pan flute - graphic by Aberrant Crochet

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Life Enriched: My Fascination With Spiders And Webs


spiderwebinafternoonsun

9 foot Halloween spider web!

I’ve owed you guys a post and explanation about the whole spider web fest going on in my yard and in my designs.  I also owe you some more photos, since after all, last night was Halloween!  (You gotta see what I did!) So I guess it’s about time I give.

First with the writing.
Later with the Halloween photos.

Truthfully, I’ve had an enigmatic fascination with spiders since childhood. One of my favorite childhood stories was about a pet wolf spider named Wolfie.  (Come to think of it, oddly enough, I later had a cat I also named Wolfie after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I only made the pet spider – pet cat connection just now though. Interesting.)  I was also the first one my girlfriends called when the creepy-crawlies showed up in their space. Julia the spider-wrangler to the rescue.

I love spiders. Fiercely like most people don’t.

Energetically, I think spiders – especially cobweb spiders – often naturally show us where the stagnant places are in our homes – those neglected areas that need attention. They create action where there is none. Metaphorically, I try to imagine Grandmother Spider pointing out things that need attention in my life and I try to picture where that would be. “Oh look here honey. You forgot this area. Here, let me help freshen it up.”

 

Garden spiders – I see them a little differently. Grandmother Spider’s protective nature seems to come out in them, in a delicate and breathtakingly beautiful way.   Then there are the little black jumping spiders I generally nickname simply “Harry.”  They show Grandmother Spider’s nature to dance in the sunlight and play.

I also often talk about how spiders are Mother Nature’s first fiber artists and I adore their individual and distinctive webs. Water_drops_spider_web_800px.jpgOrb Weavers are particularly fascinating in their design! They have such interesting and distinct designs, each one using a special technique and signature marking of its silk fibers.  I’m fascinated by the focus, patience and skill each spider displays, not to mention their grace and dance. Each web is like a fingerprint and I’ve toyed more than once with the idea of making a collection of different crochet spider webs, recreated to the design specifics of each unique species. It would be a neat undertaking.

I watch spiders, play with them, catch them, study them, and hold them in a place of reverence.

And that’s the truth.

But the whole truth is far more complex than just that alone.  There’s another side to it.  While I adore spiders, I also deeply distrust and fear them.  Almost inexplicably.

It’s a paradox.

You’d think with all my spider experience and fascination, that I’d be the first to own a tarantula or at least to pet them at a zoo.

But not me. Not by a long shot. Just watching someone else hold one gives me the creeps.

You see, another part of the truth is, there’s a constant attraction/repulsion magnetic thing going on inside of me when it comes to spiders. And I’ll never let them touch me. I just can’t. No matter how fascinating spiders are to me.

I can’t. do. that.

And I won’t allow the poisonous ones to live. Those are two lines I can’t budge on.

Needless to say, I have trust issues. As long as I can see them, I’m just fine away from it unless I have a jar – thank you.  Come near me, surprise me, crawl on me?  Forget it.  I’m your worst enemy.

How’d it all come to be?  I’m not sure I know.

But philosophically, I deal with it the same way I deal with every other challenge in my life. Education and observation.  If I’m going to be afraid of something, I want to understand it very, very well.  I’m just not into this fear of the unknown crud. Far easier to deal with the fear of what I do know.  So show me that face.

445px-Steatoda_fg01

Common Cobweb Spider

My earliest memory of a spider is actually from a dream I had when I was about 4-5 years old. A honey-colored little cobweb spider suddenly grew from a tiny little creeplie in the kitchen corner into a giant creature before my eyes. And then it told me (still dreaming here) that it was going to devour me. Yup. It said plainly, “Julia, I’m going to eat you.”

Right. Well, at least it’s honest. Awesome.

And in my dream, fearlessly like a dutiful little daughter, I stood there staring up at the enormous creature and said frankly, “Don’t eat me; eat my dad. He’s bigger!”

I have no idea why I still remember that young dream, other than out of some sort of sense of guilt. But my adventures with spiders had only begun.

The next spider introduced to my childhood was the docile wood spider. Silly little bumbling creatures that are visibly more scared of humans than any other spider I know. They practically fall all over themselves just trying to run away from you. I tried to find a photo of one for you, but have been unable to locate one.  And I’m guessing the name “wood spider” is probably one of those “folk names” that families hand down and is not likely an “official” name.

The wood spiders I grew up with are simply brown and tan striped and look similar to wolf spiders, though not nearly as husky or hairy, nor nearly as brave.  They are the first spiders to run at the sight of you or when the light is flipped on.  They liked to live in my dad’s woodshop and warehouse at work and some were so big. As a kid I sometimes wondered if maybe they were really hairless tarantulas instead, only more leggy and less body. And except for the fact that they seemed to trip over their own legs a lot.  In fact, I’ve never seen another kind of spider that seemed as likely to simply lose a leg like this kind.

It was around this time that I first read Wolfie and other books on spiders.

It wasn’t too long later when I got to see tarantulas.  Like, a lot of them.  Somewhere around that time, there was a bumper crop of brown tarantulas out in the Wichita Mountains outside my home town. I remember we were on our way to and from a drive up Mount Scott, and the road was covered in brown tarantulas. So many of them were being smashed by cars going by. There was no way for the vehicles to avoid them and the tarantulas were coming out of the bushes into the road in droves. It was like some sort of giant tarantula migration. I stared at the numbers of mangled bodies on the road and felt both sad for their misfortune, yet thankful that they couldn’t jump into our car (I hoped). And still, they kept coming.  I could see they’d never have a chance against a motorized vehicle. Silently I wished they could hear me think at them, “Please don’t cross the road! There’s nothing there but danger!” Part of me really, really wanted to see one up close and to save all the spiders. And part of me just wanted to be the hell out of there.

Jumping Spider

Jumping Spider

As mentioned above, I was also introduced to a species of jumping spider that I simply call “Harry.”  I remember them playing/hunting on my Grandma Leona’s sliding glass doors and crawling the ceilings at home. I used to tap on the glass near them to make them jump.  They always struck me as a weird combination of cats and dogs in personality.  Cat-like reflexes with dog-like enthusiasm and play.  They are amazingly gifted at catching flies! And unlike brown recluses, I have never been attacked or stalked by one of these, even though they are hunting spiders. When they are scared, they like to warn you by jumping a bit like a dog does when barking at a stranger. But I find usually they lose their initial fear pretty quickly and like to play.

Dangerous Brown Recluse (Fiddleback) Spider

Dangerous Brown Recluse (Fiddleback) Spider

Fun, more docile spiders were not to be the sum total of my experience though.  Brown recluses soon crossed my young path and set a precedent for everyday survival, as you might remember from my stories past. It’s a story born of necessity. A clan of spiders surrounded my workspace, and for years no one would believe me they were there.

So out of sheer survival, I learned more about “fiddle-backs” than any normal child. Probably just desserts for offering my father up as a replacement snack long ago. Even if it was only in a dream.

Let’s fast forward…

Over time, as I watched spiders and noted their individual web designs, I became more and more fascinated. And I tried to share this fascination with my children, so they would learn the differences between the spiders they saw and come to appreciate their gifts and lessons too.  Some of the best entertainment we had together with spiders actually came from blowing bubbles into the webs woven by garden spiders on porches between roof and banister.  The glycerine bubbles and the tiny bubble blower you can get from Gymboree are the best.  Watching a spider attack a bubble only to have it pop is a sight to see.  They don’t have facial expressions and yet, somehow you know what’s going through their minds by watching their body language.  One spider was really upset that she could not find that fly she knew she just caught.  We never laughed so hard!

But in all of this, I can’t say I’ve lost my revulsion either.  I still can’t hold a spider.  I still don’t like being surprised by them.  I hate it when they drop on me from my ceiling and oh yes, I will scream and dance and throw things and hunt until I find it, because I can’t stand the idea that it might be inside my clothes somewhere.

And that moment you walk through a web you didn’t see?  Umm, yeah –  I still go ballistic-ninja. If you ever see me dancing around a yard, fencing with a stick, now you know what’s probably up.  I know it was a comedy, but I totally related to the scene in the movie “Arachnophobia” when that spider crawled up the main character’s body.  Only I’m not paralyzed by it.  I’m transformed into a something my kids don’t recognize as me.

Some years ago, at our old house, we had two mimosa trees in front of our house.  I decided to crochet a spider web and hang it up, doing my best to make and pose it as realistically as possible.  Noting little bits I’d observed in just watching how garden spiders will craft and hang their webs.  There has to be proper tension and support.

And it grew from there, every Halloween, into what you see today.

sideviewofspiderwebinaction_watermarkedMaybe someday I will overcome the fear part of my revulsive fascination with spiders. And maybe not. (I’m thinking after all this time, the later is most likely.)  But unlike others, I do face my fear dead on, day after day.  It’s called working with your fear, not judging it, not pushing it, not making it into anything that it isn’t.

By accepting my fear and distrust of spiders, and by embracing it, I also allow myself to still see the wonder in amazing creatures and their personalities and talents that I might otherwise miss.

And perhaps that’s what overcoming really is.  Perhaps that alone sets me free.


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The Story Of The Face-Planting Yellow Bird


I am way behind on blogging lately.  So black sheep of me.  And it’s not because I’m not writing.  It’s because I am, elsewhere and in other ways!  Life is amazing and crazy, but I’m totally enjoying the ride. I haven’t blogged about our new house or anything since writing a review for Andee’s book!  Our new home is simply totally awesome.  I can’t explain it enough – where you live matters.  Even when the changes seem small.  It matters.  This place is so good for us right now.  It’s not too fancy, but it feeds the soul.  And isn’t that what we all could use more of?  I must get some good photos and try to show you some of the amazing things happening in my back yard.  I have tadpoles!  TADPOLES!  😀  Can you believe it?  I love it!

And school will be out for the kids soon!  Which even as a parent, I dearly look forward to.  Summer’s when the kids and John and I finally get to just connect as a family, without all the crazy running and stress because of this assignment or another, or because of club or school events, etc..  We think of a 40-hour work week as full-time work, but most kids, most good students, spend far more time than that on education every week.  It doesn’t seem to be until summer when we can just be ourselves and pursue our own interests individually and as a family together. And just honestly get some well deserved rest.  And me? I tackle some more focused work and planning done during that time too,  ‘cuz I work from home anyway.  Summer is my time to get ready for holiday shows.  And I’m adding a book to my work load as well.

Well, there’s a lot of news to share with you!  Including a couple of awards this blog has won (even while I wasn’t writing), how my daughter started her own blog (she has a quirky personality online and off) and how we’re getting ready for A-Kon in Dallas next weekend.  You should totally see Jess’ tail coat that she designed, then created a pattern for and then made, with some expert guidance from Paula, an amazingly talented seamstress in our town.  I am so incredibly grateful for her, because she knows how to help Jess with her far-too-advanced-for-me ideas.  Oh, and my son is in the middle of doing “flower-sack babies” for health this week.  It’s been rather comical watching him juggle “McGregor” his flower-sack baby AND his cat.   And of course there is much writing taking place.  Articles, books, etc..  I’ll have to tell you about them as I can/am allowed.  Oh yes, I will keep you in the loop.  (And hopefully, all this points to an income.)  Plus our high school Spain trip with EF Tours looms ever nearer, and we are fundraising like crazy suckers trying to get our funding together.  So much.  So much.

Well, I thought I’d start up on the blog again by telling you about an interesting experience I had yesterday. It involves a little yellow bird…
So I’m sitting outdoors with my laptop to work yesterday morning, enjoying the shade and pleasant temperatures. I know that later it won’t be this pleasant and I’m soaking up as much of my new backyard as possible. When suddenly a little brown and yellow bird plunges (falls, not lands) from above into the little flower bed next to me. At first glance, I thought it was a larger sized humming-bird with its slender beak. Then I see the color, size and shape and realize not at all. It looks like a warbler or a bunting, but not sure. Brown top, bright yellow breast.  The beak was totally different from I would have expected and the bird had white stripes on the side of the head on either side of its eyes. It looked kind of like a cross between a sparrow, chickadee and the yellow part of a goldfinch, with the beak of a hummingbird. Really slender little beak.  [Update: beak and yellow color looked a little like this prothonotary warbler! But with striping and such.]

At first I really thought it fell out of a tree.  Then I thought it was diving after a bug in the mulch, but I noticed again that it was leaning heavily to one side. Suddenly it falls forward and does a total face plant!  With its tail straight up in the air and its beak straight down into the mulch! “Are you OK?”  I speak to it, then get up and come over when it stays still. It’s not dead, but it’s obviously exhausted somehow.

It doesn’t struggle much when I pick it up from its face plant and it opens its beak wide. One of its eyes droops closed a bit. It does not look like a baby to me, but I sense extreme exhaustion and hope he isn’t dying. I take it to the waterfall in my yard and get a drop of water on my finger to give it. Then I carry it to my bird feeder to pick up some seeds. I open my hand and it sits quietly in my palm, leaning slightly to one side, letting my fingers support it. I notice some tiny “ruffled” feathers on its neck. Which I then reach to smooth, wondering if it’s injured.

At that touch, after being so calm all this time, the little bird freaks out as if it just woke up and suddenly realized I was there, chirps at me and flies away, landing on my neighbor’s roof.  I watched for a while, it didn’t roll off.

I wonder if one of the neighborhood cats took a swipe at it? Or maybe a grackle or hawk? I looked for a nest above where it fell, but did not see one.

What a curious experience! I wish I could have gotten a photo!

Well, so that’s my latest little backyard adventure story.  I shall have to catch you up on the rest of life, my mis?adventures with a snake in my pond and maybe wrangle a few decent photos somewhere.  Until then, be well.  Stay safe.

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Filed under Editorial, It's An Aberrant Life

“Mommy? You know what’s the one thing a person doesn’t want to see when they’re hungry? A Burger King…. And that happens to me a lot.”


(Random thoughts from Dear Son in the car one summer morning….)

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Don’t Put That Spoon In The Microwave


“Don’t put that spoon in the microwave,” I tell my 12 year old son.

“Don’t worry,” he says. “Unfortunately I’m not a moron in that way.”

“Ummm…” I say. “You mean to say ‘fortunately’ son.”

“No, I don’t,” he tells me.

“I mean unfortunately. Because I really would like to see what would happen.”


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Dear Diary: It’s An Aberrant Life – July 10, 2011


I wish I had something really interesting and well researched ready to go for a post this weekend. But I don’t. I do have some posts in the works, but they are not ready yet. It’s been a long week, that was at the same time too short. I’m tired AND I didn’t get enough done, dagnabit. (How do you spell that anyway?)

SO how did this week go? Well, though I got a lot done, less was physically about getting closer to moving and more was about catch up on regular chores and paperwork and such. Which always leaves me dis-satisfied.  Chores never stay done.  Neither does paperwork it seems.

imageDear daughter had her 14th birthday on July 4th.  We got together with family and friends to celebrate our nation’s and our daughter’s births, as always.  Sunday before I met with my fellow crocheter from NY, Maven who happened to be in Austin visiting family.  We’ve chatted with each other for a couple years now online and we finally met in person over coffee.  That was very enjoyable.  Saturday before that we spent time with extended family for a baby’s 1st birthday.  So the weekend was lots of family and friends with packing and demolition interspersed.

For those new here, we’ve been in the process of getting the house on the market this summer.  I update about our process occasionally and will be writing about our experiences.  We want to sell our two-bedroom home of 15 years even though we’re supposedly in a real estate slump.  They say it will be very difficult, we’ll see if we can beat the pattern anyway.

Tuesday I was a domestic goddess of power, accomplishing a weeks worth of catch up in mere hours.  Wednesday I was a handicapped dial-up modem as punishment, complete with blue screen moments.  There’s always a sacrifice, isn’t there?  What happened to my super-woman youth?  Oh yeah.  Lost her in college.  Why on earth didn’t someone tell me that it was not physically possible to hold down four jobs and 18 credits without breaking.  Until the day I woke up and couldn’t get up. Not sure I would have listened back then.  At that time, it seemed the only way to make it. Now I know better to appreciate my limitations and work with them, not against.  And to sleep.  That is a story for another time though.

The kids were incredibly helpful too, especially dear daughter.  imageI wrote out a huge list of items that needed attention, cut them out and created a job jar with some old party favor balls we bought one year. We each drew two at a time and tackled them until dinner.  Family teamwork is awesome when there’s no homework. imageI love summer.

During the kids’ piano lessons, I worked on another crochet shape for this square vintage pin I have.  I think I like this shape better for it.

Thursday I had to tackle repairing the upright piano again.  The kids can’t practice if the keys don’t work.  😦  The action had come apart on another key and while I was in there I found I needed to re-repair one I did a few months agoimageI guess Liquid Nails is not that great on an old piano, because it did not stay glued.  So I went with classic wood glue this time.  Back together again.  Back to working.  I tried to see if there was any way I could fix the baby grand too, but it appears a hammer broke off and fell deep into its bowels.  After taking everything apart that I could right here in my living room, it became obvious to me that the only way to fix the permanent sustain (a broken hammer piece is keeping the sustain engaged full-time) is to pull the harp, or pick up the piano and shake it and see if it will fall out, whatever is more likely possible.  😉  So back together it went and will have to wait until after we move, hopefully soon.  Oh and if you didn’t catch on, I’m talking about two different pianos.  Yes, I have an upright and a baby grand in my two-bedroom house. I did have a drum set too, but it’s packed now.  The guitars aren’t though.

Friday was put the house back together and have family for dinner day. Hubby fixed his most excellent smoked salmon served with brie and yummy rye.  So very yummy!

Saturday hubby worked on his closets while I worked in the garage.  We need to replace carpet in at least two rooms.  Whether we replace with more carpet, or go with the old original wood floor, we need to move furniture out of the rooms to do it.

After working out in the garage for the afternoon yesterday, I had a touch of heat exhaustion to deal with in spite of drinking a lot of water and wrapping my head in a Chilly PadWondrous things those, btw.  There is nothing like Central Texas heat to make mush of your body and brain.  Having the experience has made me think on writing an article about dehydration and heat exhaustion.  I wasn’t exactly very educated on these things as a kid and thank god to know better now.

Today, I’m trying to piggy-back off yesterday.  Trying to complete the tasks we began yesterday and get ready for our daughter’s week of National Ocean Science Bowl meetings.  And new contractors with new quotes. Hopefully more timely than the last.

My week in review. Ending the day with Tai Wraps and about 5 minutes of rain (finally). It was a celebration.  I’ll have to post some photos tomorrow.

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The Kung Fu-Tai Chi Nationals


Well, this year we had steeper competition.

Our daughter moved to the advanced division of competitors, which pitted her against teens with higher belts than her green. She took a silver in Shuai Chiao wrestling. So not as many medals as last year, but she worked hard.

Our son advanced from beginner to intermediate. He won gold in the same event he did last year, but this time he really had to work for it! He competed against some kids from FL and CA who had some impressively presented forms. Seriously sharp kids with snappy forms. But he took a gold in foam sword fighting again, in spite of some excellent opposition. What a goofy kid! And he was out there grinning ear to ear and having fun the entire time.

It was a long day, but all in all an excellent showing of some fantastic martial artists. Makes me think, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get back into staff and knife fighting again….. Pretty soon, my kids will be big enough to practice with! (Well, for me, that is…..)

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