Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The 5.9 Commandments

When I celebrated my 49th birthday ten years ago, I was anxious to join the 50-something crowd. The already-50-something girlfriends said, “Here's what is great about turning 50, suddenly you won’t take any more crap from anyone.” I wrote in The Gathering Basket, “I’m free of youth,” and celebrated that freedom. I like being in my fifties. I like it so much that next year I think I’ll celebrate my first of many 59-and-holding birthdays.

But should I not be excited about the upcoming golden years? Frankly, I’ve heard one too many goldens say it ain’t so golden. Last night while soaking in the hot tub under the Santa Fe stars an epiphany struck. “And thou shalt live under the 5.9 commandments that I have thus sent to you,” roared a voice in my head.

1. Thou shall not equate 6-0 with old.
2. Thou shall not wear shorts or mini-skirts without lipo.
3. Remember that only your hairdresser knows your real hair color and that all those grey-haired folks among you are older people. Bless them for their bravery.
4. Honor thy goals and forward movements and provide service for those who can’t.
5. You shall find youth’s glory within your soul and grandchildren

And the final commandment was the .9 one, which means it wasn’t complete, but it went something like, “And thou shall seek enrichment from words that you shall…” And the voice faded off into the sparkling bubbles turning to ice when they hit the 20-degree temperature outside of the hot tub.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Bitch

I’ve been thinking about this Hillary Clinton thing. You know, how she is in a horse race with other Democratic candidates, and how “she’s polarizing,” and how freely men and women call her a bitch.

For clarification, Mrs. Clinton is not my candidate of choice. Not because she’s polarizing or because I don’t believe she’s qualified. She hasn’t sold me on her platform. But I’m proud of her because she has tossed herself into the lion’s den of presidential politics. You go, girl.

But back to this bitch business. I wonder how many times I’ve been called a bitch? Was I a bitch because I have strapped “them” on and wrestled the proverbial bulls? Did I wear the title because I stood for my beliefs? Is it bitchy because I’m the boss and confident with decision making? I don’t know. However, I suspect that because I have refused (or been unable) to act subservient or lesser-than, that the bitch word has likely been attached to certain conversations about me.

Have I ever called another woman a bitch? Guilty as charged. I’ve regretted it every time. What makes me think I have the right to assume that another woman’s crankiness isn’t completely justified? And, yes, there are women who I’ve seen misconstrue power and behave badly—just like our buddies of the opposite sex. But only one in these circumstances is nailed with bitch.

Recently, a wealthy man said that what makes a person whole and successful is compassion. I guess he was simply saying that compassion towards others is good karma. I haven’t the foggiest as to whether it was his compassion that made him wealthy, but at least he brought the single most repetitive precept of Jesus Christ to the forefront, compassion.

I don’t know why these simple rules go unnoticed except that a sage woman once told me, “Charmaine, when you look at others you see them through your own soul first. So if there is darkness in your soul, your vision is unclear.” Don’t believe for a moment that I’ve mastered the art of a clear soul. I’ve an Irish temper that is wise to avoid fueling, and barely an ounce of patience flows through my veins. However, when I hear random shouts of “Bitch!” it makes me mindful of how I can better myself and the world in which I dwell.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Butt Crack Fashion

Yes, sometime back in the late 1960s, I wore khaki-green jeans--poncho topped--with a tambourine tied to a leather string slung over my shoulder. My pierced ears held long dangling rings and beads that often tangled with my waist-length hair. The fellows around were jean and Mexican shirt attired. Colorful, defiant and full of ourselves, we looked good--in our eyes.

Would I dress the same today? Sometimes I do, except for the green jeans.

Recently, vehicle registration forced me inside a local DMV. Lots of sitting and observing time there. First, a heavier guy, say around 30-ish, heard his number--927--called. The minute "Number 927, to window 3, please," echoed through the state chamber, every face turned and watched that lucky duck make his way to the counter. However, I wished this lucky duck had feathers on his butt end instead of 4" inches of serious crack mooning the crowd.

Okay, he was a little sloppy. Forgiven. Sort of.

Number 1012 out did 927. Britches below his ass, I hoped that his tucked-in shirt stayed that way. "Please, don't stretch or bend," I prayed. His fashion was purposeful. I get it. It's fashion. Sort of. Butt crack fashion.

The best part was watching him try to walk. That's when I began to doubt the wisdom of this look.

Probably everyone has experienced a time when your drawers were dropped, and for unexpected reasons you had to get up and move. Did you ever play the mountaineer game with a bowl-legged character that must find the right maze to reach the top? That's what it's like walking with pants below the butt. Miserable. (This brings to mind a Big Sur camp out. Nature made her call. Half a mile inside the tree lined canyon I found a sheltered place for the moment. Making my self as comfortable as one can get at this time, I exhaled, looked up at the parting fog when suddenly, a huge snake slithered its way across my bare feet. I became the bowl-legged, pants dropped, person running back to camp.)

I know this brands my up and coming 60th year: I don't want to see any one's butt crack, even Brad Pitt's. (Don't misinterpret this as me being prudish. The entirety of Mr. Pitt's bareness is just fine.) However, as the butt crack makes itself present, then the thought of britches dropping to the knees gives me the heeby-jeebies. Why? I will watch, then feel like a pervy old lady.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"There Is Only One Anne Hillerman"

When I moved to Santa Fe to take charge of the bookstore that spouse and I had recently purchased, my first job was to bring consumers back to the business. A childrens book festival seem right since many of the books I sold were written by local authors.

A talented group participated, including one who became a friend, and today, honored by The New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Anne Hillerman. So prolific that when author Judith R. Hendricks ("Bread Alone") said that when she googled Anne, she thought there were many other Anne Hillermans out there, but, she said, "There is only one Anne Hillerman."

Anne is a journalist, author, editor and business woman. (Visit: When her next three projects publish ("Restaurant Guide to Santa Fe," "Santa Fe Gardens," and a photo essay written by Anne and with photos of noted landmarks in the Tony Hillerman novels by her husband, Don Strel, "The Hillerman Landscapes") I'll keep you posted.

In a world were charm and graciousness are a challenge to find, it is good when we take time out to recognize talent that is wrapped in these good labels.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Those darn irons that keep landing in the fire!

Emails wondering where the Santa Fe Mother Blogger blogs have gone fill my mailbox. "Did you quit?" "Writer's block?" "Are you okay?"

All is well in the SFe Mo Blogger camp. However, after my home computer, my ever-faithful laptop that every computer wizard said I should put to sleep--but I gave it new innards instead--died of a coffee overdose, I was left with the office computer. Not good, because one cannot think at my office.

With one too many irons in the proverbial fire, I rushed one early morning to scan and send out some art for a project. Usually I avoid anything that requires thought or coordination until I consume my first cup of coffee. The only difference in my morning energy levels from that of my second decade of life is engagement speed. One might say, the rpm level has dropped a tad.

Secondly, the biggest rule in my life is KEEP ALL LIQUIDS AWAY FROM OFFICE MACHINERY.

With an extra large cup filled to the top with fresh brewed java, I scooted to the home office, set the coffee down by the laptop and reached for the just scanned piece of art. Life went into slow motion. My hand grazed the top of the coffee cup which toppled right into my laptop. The hot brown liquid completely emptied into the aged computer.

My neighbors surely heard my 6:30 a.m. scream followed by a string of unknown language that defined every single body part, body function, curse, and all things gross and nasty. In the course of cursing, I pulled the computer power source and flipped it upside down. The dog charged down to my office barking notice and concern. Clif tossed his razor into the sink and screamed "Are you okay?" and followed the dog. The cat slunk under the bed. As if taking its last gasp of air, a puff of smoke escaped the computer.

Need I say more?

The fire continues to burn and the irons require my attention. Soon, however, the snows will fall and perhaps the fire will slow down to the size of a lit candle.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Accounting For A Year

When your CPA drawls, “If you don’t get me those numbers soon, you’ll be getting’ your knickers in a knot,” the interpretation: Get off your lazy butt and close out your 2006 books.

So I’ve been buried inside a mind bending accounting software program, and polishing my blue language for over a week now. I’d rather pull thorny weeds from the hot and hard panned soil. But that’s not today’s tale.

My latent accounting slam disallowed the pooch’s (Hank) and my morning walks. Today we walked. This walk compared to our last Saturday morning walk was different. I could not hear birds whistling, no cottontails jumped out of our path (and making Hank nearly insane), and no steady hum of vehicles in the distance. A telltale roar ripped the late August air, shocking me back to the real world. At 7300 feet, summer can end quickly. So as I approached my neighbor--attired in a t-shirt, shorts and boots, sweat leaving trails along his face--I waved. He slowed the telltale-roar’s culprit. I shouted, “This can’t be! We can’t be that close to summer’s end, can we?”

Not wanting to loose time with his project, he answered, “I can’t wait. I love it when it’s cold.” He put his noisy chainsaw back to work dismantling one of a thousand dead pinon trees that lie in fields near our homes.

That’s it! It’s late August 2007 and I can’t account for more than five days of this year.

Stunned, I called Hank back from his short foray into the woods and we moseyed back home. I poured iced water for both of us. (Apparently, nothing gets as hot as a Golden Retriever in the summer.)

Now that my 2006 books are nearly complete, I should make some nasturtium vinegar for the winter, begin my holiday to do list, and put off posting 2007 numbers until sometime next year.

Photo: Hank playing pirate.

Stella, the gorgeous poodle pictured across from Hank, was just sent in by her human, one of the best realtors in Santa Fe, Joan Grossman. When Hank saw Stella dance at a Hanukkah celebration, that was it. Love. Total love.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

6-0 Looms, Lurks, And Lures

Wrinkles! Grey Hair! Flab! Oh! My! Welcome to Sixohdear!

Yes, that big 6-0 birthday looms. Former classmates have a way of reminding me. “Hey, since most of us will turn 60 in 2008, let’s take a birthday cruise,” the emails suggest.

I’m cool with that.

It took my new membership to Club Grandparent to make this 6-0 business catch my attention. Never mind my blogs about comedy clubs and the center-seated golden girls. Ignore the fact that I prefer and will buy only comfortable vehicles. Gray hair? Right! I went from a natural brunette to hints of salt and pepper, directly to blond, then back to assorted shades of red hair.

Some of the best people I know have already passed that 6-0 thing.

So as I progress through Sixohdear! I’ll introduce you to those who laugh in the face of aging; discuss issues of these times; chronicle how those of us who survived the 60’s and once warned, “don’t trust anyone over 30,” remain destined to create even more change; and I’ll seek your opinions and wisdom.

Note: The three bears photo, a fine shoot by retired cuzin Sue, who recently visited Alaska