30 June 2010

just shoot me.

manga assassin., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Holy hell. Another insane week of consecutive shitty Mondays.

I don't even know where to begin?!!... so I won't.

"Hell is other people."

...Jean-Paul Sartre

26 June 2010

Frida Khalo with Brush.

I've always been a fan of the Arts be it music, the written word, theater and movies, or other visual mediums: painting, sculpture, and photography.

Painting was never my forte despite three fruitless years of art classes in high school. In three years, I managed to produce two whole pieces of art that I was proud of and I haven't a clue where they are now. Not that we didn't have a talented instructor, but poor Mr. Godwin never really excelled at keeping his unruly students in order. By my junior year, I think he had pretty much given up on our group as he spent his hour long class time locked in his office smoking cigarettes until the bell rang and he was rid of us. Due to my contributions to Mr. Godwin's ulcers, I was barred from taking art my senior year.

There were some talented and productive student's in the class however, namely Mike and Steve, and how they managed to accomplish anything in the midst of the rest of us is beyond me.

I had known Mike since grade school and he had always been amazingly talented and uncharacteristically advanced in drawing as well as academics. He was my sweetheart in first grade.

I remember how he used to draw Superman with such precision and detail that he was often accused of tracing it. Once in third grade, we were carving pumpkins at Halloween. Mike was in my group and since he was undisputedly the best artist in the class, we charged him with the task of sketching the face upon the pumpkin that we would carve. When he finished however, he had drawn the face three dimensional - appearing as it would as if it had already been carved... he could not understand for the life of him why that wouldn't work.

In high school, Mike was always busy painting while the rest of us assed off and reeked havoc and always he produced something utterly amazing. And then, much to my horror, before the paint had yet dried, he would paint over it and start on something new. I think he must have used the same canvas for years. It used to kill my soul to watch this... what I wouldn't have given for an ounce of his talent and I often wonder what he's doing with his life now.

Of course, I've never been one to recognize opportunities as they presented themselves early in my life. Perhaps I was too immature, stubborn, or just plain stupid, whatever the case, life is too short for regrets and by the time you're approaching forty, you just have to work with what ya got. ...And perhaps one day, I'll give painting another shot.

Meanwhile, I have fallen victim to a blooming obsession as I have discovered an abundance of talented artists selling their passions for reasonable fares on none other than eBay...

This is one such painting: "Frida Khalo with Brush," an original acrylic on canvas by Mexican folk artist Claudia Garcia.

I've always been enamored with Frida Khalo. Apparently, I am not alone as there are many Frida inspired paintings, jewelry, and other random artsy things out there as well as reproductions of her work.

Garcia's painting is her interpretation of Frida's likeness and, while not bearing a realistically striking resemblance, it is her clean and simple folk art style that appealed to me. It was the symbolilc sentiment, combined with those amazing eyes, however, that sold me.

And it looks beautiful on my wall.

"I paint self portraits because I am the person I know best."

...Frida Kahlo

23 June 2010

things that make me smile.

Desktop Doll Heads, originally uploaded by Zen Cat.
  1. Alvin,
  2. his unconditional love and support,
  3. his kind and wonderful words, and, of course,
  4. his strange and delightful obsession with doll heads...

'Nuff said. XOXO

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."

...Leo Buscaglia


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
"Beware of turning into the enemy you most fear. All it takes is to lash out at someone who has done you some grievous harm, proclaiming that only your pain matters in this world. More than against that person's body, you will then, at that moment, be committing a crime against your own imagination."

...Ariel Dorfman
Novelist, playwrite, & essayist

I've known too many people in my life that fit this description, sadly, some of them I am related to and truth be told, I'm neither exempt from the occasional lashing out though I try very hard to treat people the way I wish to be treated. It's when I encounter others in their reckless disregard that I tend to fall short.

I encounter them every day at the law office -- they call, they drop in and are usually rude, irrational, and completely oblivious to the affect their inconsideration has on the person(s) at whom they are bitching, ranting, raving, and whining (usually me). This is not to say that I, or any other member of our staff, don't try our best to be compassionate and attentive to a client's pain or personal emergency regardless of their often inappropriate attitude.

One has to keep in mind that when a person visits a law office, they generally are not having a good day. And whatever the crisis, it is the most important issue in the world to that person at that moment.

This is not to say that we don't have some wonderful clients that we enjoy working with and strive to resolve their difficult situations and make their lives easier. We do and that's the ultimate reward. I'm not talking about them and I'm not just talking about clients.

What I have the most difficulty with are those who are so blinded by their own personal agendas and self-absorbed life that they take everyone else for granted, complain about everything, lack empathy toward others, and somewhere along their paved journey through this world, their own sense of entitlement has caused the connecting inner strand of humanity to break within them.

And like Harry Potter's dementors, they suck all that is good and happy and positive right out of those around them.

I really need to learn how to cast a patronus.

How I wish it were that easy...

"When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable."

...Thich Nhat Hanh

21 June 2010


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Once upon a time as a young military wife stationed abroad, I had the extraordinary experience of discovering family in a wonderfully diverse array of people brought together by the shared commonalities... Distance from our families of origin, the uniqueness of military culture, and the desire to enjoy life with people we love.

Some of the best times of my life, some of my most sacred memories, were born in Germany. And some of the best friends in my life, made.

I recall Thanksgivings gathered 'round my giant table filled with flowers and delicious food cooked with love by Germans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Croatians. Soldiers, civilians, children, my gay hairdresser and his boyfriend.

I remember Christmases gathering at Elvia's house spending hours making tamales with friends... Pot loads! We talked and laughed, spooned & folded. The taste of that first batch freshly steamed was something straight out of Mexican heaven.

New Years, celebrating with Martin and Evelyn on the old bridge in Kitzingen, drinking champagne and dodging firecrackers, and calling our parents and friends back home, six hours ahead, to wish them good tidings.

German street fests and church basement parties. Hispanic heritage functions on base and touring the Würzburger Hofbrau Brewery with USA DENTAC on the taxpayer's dime.

I remember Isabel's first birthday party... our flat was filled to capacity with people from around the world, every shade of the human spectrum, a symphony of languages... Everyone eating, drinking, and being merry simply because a little girl's birthday was a fine excuse to come together just be happy.

Indeed, some of the best times of my life.

This past week, Elvia's daughter Nicki graduated from high school. I drove up to Virginia. Another friend, once a single soldier in Germany many a year ago, drove out from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Another couple, also from our Germany days, drove down from New Jersey. And still others, from Washington, DC. A few fellow graduates came over after graduation... The house was filled with people, each from distinctly different lives, backgrounds, cultures, ages, races, and professions -- rich with love and laughter.

I had not seen some of these dear people in nearly 12 years.

Two folding tables were erected in the living room for a celebratory spaghetti dinner and a good time was had by all... making memories.

And for a moment, I felt like I was home again...
But home, after all, is where the heart is.

"Home is a place not only of strong affections, but of entire unreserve; it is life's undress rehearsal, its backroom, its dressing room."

...Harriet Beecher Stowe

19 June 2010

the graduate.

the graduate., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

She did it! W00t!

Twenty years ago, I walked across the stage. Seems like a lifetime ago and I suppose it was. Two decades. Wow.

I can still recall the excitement of school being over, really over, and feeling as though I was finally an "adult" and the world was wide open...

Of course, we could barely stand for obligatory photographs what with the beach waiting and all. My best friend Karen and I climbed into my old 1980 CJ-7 Renegade with it's custom paint job and 35" tires and stole away into the night like giddy thieves barreling down the highway with the doors off, tossing our pantyhose out the windows. --The beginning of the rest of our lives.

This is yours Nicki and the world awaits brimming over with promise and dreams... Take advantage of every single moment; it will vanish in a blink.

I have no doubt that you will make your mark and the world will be all the better for having you. It's what you're made of.

I'm so proud of you! And I love you!

"The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after."

...Newton D. Baker


Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
10:38 a.m. Just a few moments ago, my morning was interrupted by a couple of young fellows knocking on my door. The spokesman of the two introduced themselves as being from a Christian ministry something-or-other and said that with all the bad things happening in the world today, that they wanted to know if I believed that there was hope for the future? I kindly told them that they probably didn't want to hear my thoughts on the world situation. Well then, do you mind if I share with you some thoughts from the Bible? Actually, I do mind. They thanked me, wished me a good day, and left.

As is most often the case, I thought of just what I should have said after the fact:

"Hope for the future of the world rests upon the ability of humanity to learn tolerance, respectful understanding, and compassion towards the beliefs, cultures, challenges, pain and suffering in the lives of others..."

"Man partly is and wholly hopes to be."

...Robert Browning

15 June 2010

my lil' graduate.

my lil' graduate.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
This past week, my sweet, special baby girl "graduated" to 6th grade and (*gasp*) to middle school.

As much as the thought horrifies me - the big change, middle school with big and often cruel kids, leaving behind the special and wonderful teachers and friends who have been my daughter's everything for the past several years - I was immensely proud. Isabel has come so much farther than anyone every imagined or predicted and yet, the road is yet long.

And yes, I cried.
I cried because it has been such a long and challenging journey both as her mother and her biggest advocate. Because, while other moms and dads celebrate this same milestone and save for their child's college education, dreaming of the accomplished individuals they hope them to become - our future is so uncertain. And I cried for a hundred other reasons and because it was the only thing to do and I just couldn't help myself.

I was so proud of each and every one of "our kids" - the ones who were moving on, and the ones who were staying behind... Throughout the long-winded assembly of speeches and presentations and sideshows, Bella and her classmates were incredibly patient (an uncommon attribute for our kids). And they each took to the stage like true achievers, smiling and pleased. One fellow graduate from Bell's class even snagged the microphone from his teacher and addressed the audience with a cheerful and moving, "Hey!" A most excellent speech in my humble opinion.

Afterward, we all adjourned to the classroom for a "cook in" and enjoyed one last social with our friends. Superlatives were awarded (none to our surprise, Isabel got "most energetic").

It was bittersweet.

In parting, I left everyone with Thank You notes from Isabel with a picture of her happy, smiling face and enclosed all that I could conjure: my words...

Dear Teachers, Friends, Mentors…

I so wish I had gifts to give to everyone, a token of thanks and remembrance, for all that you have given, contributed, and shared in my daughter’s life these last few years. But then there is nothing I could possibly give to each of you that would adequately express my gratitude for the love and care you have shown Isabel.

You have each played a magnificent and unique role in the world of a special little girl – an ever mischievous, often stubborn, frequently happy, and most always content little person whose quality of life is defined in the moment by her surroundings. –You have shared her life as her friends, companions, role models, and teachers, celebrating her accomplishments and victories, however small, with patience and acceptance. You have laughed together and played together; grown and learned together… You have supported and protected one another. Not merely because it is your job or because you are a fellow student; it is who you are individually.

I cannot begin to tell you, even from a distance, what you mean to me simply because you have each been someone important, someone special to Isabel. You have been Isabel’s world. And for that, I cannot begin to thank you enough.

05 June 2010

proud & busy day.

proud., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Saturdays are for errands, grocery shopping, and catching up on laundry. Whew. Just thinking about it all in the morning while sipping my coffee makes me tired. Today was no exception.

It started out with wrangling with the wild things and "Dan, Dan, the Painter Man" showing up at 10 am. As it was impossible to keep the children away from the paint and out from underfoot of our painter, we gave up and decided to start our day.

First stop: Lowes.
We dropped some serious home improvement coin and miraculously managed to get out of the store without beating the defiant and obnoxious kids half to death.

En route to feed everyone, we stopped by a local Taekwondo academy that just opened up near to one of our favorite eating spots to see how our rambunctious three year old would react to some real martial arts which he has been emulating from television.

We watched as Master Kim and Grand Master Jun (a two time world champion) taught our little son to kick into the air and punch a bag, to yell out "yaaaa!" and even to break his very own little board, pictured here. He could not have been happier or more pleased with himself. And I watched with my heart bursting with pride as he bowed to his teachers. Sold!

So I guess we're signing him up. =)

Next stop: lunch at the North Ridge Pub.
By the time we finished lunch, we (at least Kevin and I) were exhausted and our patience dwindling. Groceries would have to wait, so home we went...

Where, just hours after our darling little boy had exhibited such skill and made his parents so proud with his good listening and excellent behavior... he spray-painted his sister a high-gloss black.

Never a dull moment.

"No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal."

...Bill Cosby

03 June 2010

swings & doodlebugs.

swinging., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Despite having been overcome with the plague this past weekend and the "good car" breaking down, we four did manage to slip away Saturday for a cookout with dear friends, Nikita and Wes, in High Point, NC.

The home is nestled on acres and acres of what was once an active dairy farm. The massive lushly green lawn is filled with wonderful big old Oak and Magnolia trees (in full bloom). One such grand tree held from its high bough "the world's greatest tree swing," as Wes puts it. Indeed, such a simple pleasure and it was magnificent. --We all took turns.

We had a great meal with great friends beneath large covered patio overgrown with ivy and various fragrant vines. The kids ran and played and wandered about... Liam discovered "echoes" which provided endless entertainment. Isabel explored the expanse of the great outdoors freely much to her delight. We explored the old dairy barn and played on antique tractors.

And I taught Liam the age old secret of "Doodle Bug calling"...

"Doodlebug, Doodlebug
Come out, come out
Your house is on fire..."

Then as I gently swished the straw around in the Antlion's lair, he suddenly appeared like magic.

"Why?" Liam wanted to know.
"Well, because we tricked him and told him his house was on fire."
"To make him come out so we could see him."
"Oh..." and then back to the tractor he ran...

"Children are curious and are risk takers. They have lots of courage. They venture out into a world that is immense and dangerous. A child initially trusts life and the processes of life."

...John Bradshaw

Gma & me.

Gma & me.
Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
I miss my Grandma. Immensely. Terribly. I ache with missing her...

These days, if you're lucky, on a good day, you may still catch a glimpse of the truly remarkable and amazing woman that is my Grandma.

She turned 83 this year. Health problems are nothing new for the woman I once believed indestructible, however it is the absence from clarity of mind that is the most difficult to accept, at least for me.

Growing up next door, Grandma was my best friend. With an eighth grade education, she was still the strongest, wisest woman I knew. We gardened together, we planted, weeded, and harvested vegetables, fruits, and flowers. We shucked corn, shelled peas, and snapped beans. We fished together with cane poles and many a day would just cop-a-squat in the hot summer sun, bust open a watermelon and eat it right there in the middle of the dirt farm path with our hands.

I often spent the night at her house and went to bed wearing one of her lacy nylon or flannel gowns, smelling of Avon products. Right up into my teens, she would sing to me when I asked, a song she had learned as a girl, "Topsy Turvy Town" and I would drift off in utter bliss snuggled deep beneath layers of handmade quilts as Grandma lay beside me mumbling in her sleep.

Last week, we had a good visit. I took her fresh strawberries which she loves. She asked me several times where I got them and each time I told her the grocery store. Then she would offer them to me. Grandma, true to her nature, was never satisfied unless she shared what meager things she had and fed people.

She told me before I left that I should come stay with her when she got home. I told her I'd like that very much.

How I wish I could go back again, be that sun-kissed, long-legged blond little girl who went fishing with Grandma and went to bed smelling of Avon.

"And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see: or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read."

...Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens (p. 240)