Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Food and Love

Yesterday I watched the video Johnny's new bride's sister made of them preparing for their wedding in Taiwan. On Friday night I skyped their wedding which was taking place on Saturday morning. I was seeing into the future. I was not there to share food at that moment, however food from Johnny's adventurous life was always part of our ritual conversations on the meaning of life, learning to think for oneself and taking responsibility for one's actions.

After a bout with juvenile court we'd come home to leftover beans and rice and a discussion of consequences. On the way to a soccer tournament he'd dig into a cooler of cheese and grapes, granola bars, ham sandwiches and chips. We would talk about winning and losing. After a class five river rafting trip that he took me on we ate apples and cheese on a rock out cropping, me thankful to be alive, Johnny, fearless and filled with satisfaction. The discussion turned to the majesty of nature. Whatever he took on, he played full out.

Today he follows his love of God around the world in order to witness to others the power that love can have in one's life. The God he sought kayaking over 40 foot waterfalls now fills his heart. The foods we share take place in emails asking for a specific recipe for apple crisp or a healing soup.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Comfort Food

TV dinner. 1968. Pregnant with Danielle, my first child. Villa Park, Illinois. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce, to be exact. My husband walked across the street to buy them, on-demand, whenever I needed one during those first three months. Convenience stores were just coming on strong. 

Comfort food wasn't a term then, something that I would seek out from my past that would comfort me in the present. Sliced bananas, sprinkled with sugar and milk poured over or the forever nightly popcorn ritual. 

Today, hardly any of the foods from my past comfort me. My diet has so radically changed. I can barely eat out. I only want the home cooked meal's Larry and I prepare.  Last night he made a tomato sauce and served it over spaghetti squash. I invented a new recipe for garlic green beans, blanching them first before roasting them on a cookie sheet with chopped garlic and olive oil. Our salad was mixed greens with a garlic, olive oil and lemon dressing. I have tried many times to churn up past comfort from my mother's spaghetti and meatball recipe she learned from Italian friends when we lived on Tachikawa Air Force Base in Japan. I can duplicate it very well and serve it with canned green beans and head lettuce salad with bottled French dressing like she did. It's just not as good as what Larry and I made last night. The colors are the same, the red and green, and the texture.  

The comfort that is carried over, however, is the comfort of homemade and eating at home, at a pleasantly set table. Growing up, we never ate out. Really.  I do not have a single memory of eating in a restaurant. Even road trip meals were served on picnic tables at rest stops. The comfort I seek is not in the finished dish, it is in the experience of creation. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Only 2 Years Until My 70th Birthday Party


It was such treat to be able to set up the sound system again, wear my shibori dyed truly wearable art. perform with my amazing husband, Larry Vogt and to listen to my friends, Soreyda Begley and Joe Anthony tell their stories and to hear my grandson, Chuck Logsdon play the violin.  I am looking forward to my grandson, Avery, reading his work. (Click here to read his latest music reviews.)  I am blessed. 

1992 The Coffin

I’ve never had to look for what I wanted.  It would seem to appear, just when I needed it, in the most unlikely place, the top shelf of the closet, the back pocket of a pair of jeans or between the mattresses.

 I don’t remember putting the pages between the mattresses, but there they were, yesterday, when I was washing the eyelet dust ruffle that goes around my king-size bed. It was the story he told me after the tears and gentle hug. He said he was afraid of flowers that fell on the ground because every time he picked one up it slipped through his fingers and he worried about their daughters.

 He always threw the roses in the compost before she thought they were ready. She waited until the petals turned brown but he wanted to see the pink and red, sift and sprinkle in his rose-petal compost, shaded by the pine trees, guarded by the white picket fence.

He wanted to cut the trees at the back of the field and plant bushes with white flowers. She didn’t want to see buildings and sky when she looked through her lace-covered window.

“It will take years for the trees to grow back,” she said.
“Only eight,” he said.
“I could be dead by then,” she said.

He pounded each nail into the pine coffin as though the point penetrated a memory. Like the time they hiked up the ridge in early spring and he took photos of her naked up against the tree. She didn’t let the cool spring air keep her from staring into the lens of his camera.  Each nail went in smoothly, making a sound, shrill, as he pounded his heart and swallowed down tears.

She had loved dead roses. Found places to stick them; behind pictures, under teddy bears and inside her underwear drawer, next to mementos and panties and her rosary, the rosary she fondled, convinced it would tie her to kites that carried her vision. When she slid into the bath water, he’d drop dried rose petals on top of her.

Their daughters made the padding, a silky, shiny, ivory padding; the same ivory color she had chosen for her wedding dress, even if she was his third wife; the same ivory she chose for the lace-covered christening gown, even though they never went to church. He massaged her foot her last night. He wrapped his hands around her toes and squeezed them.

The toes of his own foot were numb, his shoes, worn,  and the old house they’d started to fix, finally, up just sat there at the edge of town. Now he would never see anything but music on the walls. The mirror still held her image, and it still moved moved, in its own way, up and down, while candles flickered. She was not there to blow them out. The wind from the window made them dance.
There was no church service. He dug the grave himself. He interrupted the grass with tiny winding paths and the shovel leaned against the shed as a shadow struck a chord of disbelief at all the dead roses on the dusty windowsill.
Every scoop of dirt, a kiss tossed over his shoulder, a vision in the mirror with the low lights on, her body, a silhouette hovering near his cheek, her kiss, a tiny slither of moonlight, still there from the first time. The sweat that dripped as he dug mixed with the tears that wouldn’t fall.
The girls and their friends and his friends and her friends stood in a circle holding hands, humming their favorite song until the hum became one song nobody ever heard before and he and his brothers slowly lowered her in the satin-lined pine coffin. Fresh dirt trickled back in, handful by handful. Every friend remained until there were only flowers left to plant and he did that alone, waiting for the tears to come unstuck, waiting for the lump to burst out.
He cut pink roses, arranged them in the fake crystal vase on the dresser. The tears that fell were finally filling up the room, the candles finally went out. There was a connection between his tears and dead roses, they both fell one by one until the pile on the dresser was brilliant and crunchy, and the tears, frozen like solid daggers, colored pink and translucent stuck to the rose petals. The darkness was cut in half by a tiny slither of moonlight that brushed his cheek as he watched the mirror.
 I never had to look for him after that. He would appear in my dreams at night and I never had to look for her either. Her story was wrapped in waxed paper and kept safe between the mattress on my bed and the dust ruffle that scraped along the floor, the eyelets making music dance on the walls.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


 The first thing I did was invite friends to my "only two years until my 70th birthday party."  One friend said, "you don't have to say that." I said, "I want to." It reminds me that time is of the essence.   It truly will be "more painful to remain tight in a bud than to blossom."  Thank you, Anais Nin.  I intend to set a pace at which I will be able to continue to create and share my art and knowledge and prosper until I'm 98. Not only for the income but for the stimulation.  (I have a role model of a woman who lived vibrantly  until she was 98.) The second thing I did was give away instructions on my technique via photos and a PDF. I was asked detailed questions.  I gave detailed answers. The gift for me from the asking was a confirmation that 1. I had valuable knowledge and 2. I could communicate it in a way that could be understood. This changed my perspective from procrastinating, (no one wants this info) to committing to get that video made and that book done. I am so grateful she asked! This is the poem I included in my birthday invitation. "Power Tools.  Express yourself. Make a statement. Make it count. Write your story, no matter how painful. Make art as if you will live forever.  Stir up the energy. Then share it, as if you will die tomorrow."

Dolores Laverne Zabielski 1951

First, Mother made sections
laid a rag across her finger
combed smooth
the silky strands
wrapped them down, under,
up and around
tying a knot
sliding her finger out.

Next morning
she untied each one
chocolate swirls
pulling them back
I sat, pretty
or her to finish.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making Do

Easter, 1957
Tachikawa AFB, Japan
Handmade dress by Mom
Photo by Daddy

I often suffer from illusions of grandeur.  I tend to move in the world as though money is no object.  I volunteer relentlessly, give my knowledge away for free and frequently discount my art down to only the cost of supplies.   I don’t know if that feeling of being rich comes from my mother always making sure we had new shoes at the beginning of each school year,  sewed me beautiful clothes and created magnificent Christmases, or growing up in the military.

Apparently in 1958 my desires got the best of me and the only way my mother could address my wants was to sit me down and remind me how hard my daddy worked for what little we had.

Easter, 1957
The rest of the family
Steve, Raworth, Lamar, Mom and Dad
Photo by me
Making Do

By day
a Tech Sergeant
in the
Daddy drove
a cab
at night
380 a month
25 a week
for groceries
7 kids
1 pair of shoes
10 cents
for cub scout
the whole house
for that

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Johnny's Story

Author, Johnny, 1989

When you're a writer, never pass up an opportunity to perform.  So I would read my new work every every chance I got.  Which often meant at the kitchen table to family.  They were my best audience.  As always, kids are watching you're every move.  A few days after I read the story Innocence Johnny brings this typewritten paper to me.  "Have you read my story?" he asked.  "No I haven't," I replied and asked him to read it to me.  He held it up and read, "No pooping on the toilet!"  End of story.

 Johnny and Nightsnow
Partners in Crime

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Four Minute Horror

Johnny, 1989

 Sometimes, as parents, we make mistakes.  Well, actually, it’s more like frequently.  And when we do, there’s not much we can do about it.  Except listen.

Four Minute Horror

The horror, the four minute horror of the fair last night, the excitement in Johnny’s face, the trusting, “I can handle anything” look, so sweet, considering he didn’t even know there was anything to handle.  This was the trust of a four-year-old, expecting it all to be fun as he walked up the ramp and proudly showed the carnival man the unlimited ride stamp on his hand. 

I watched it all.  I watched as he squeezed in between his older brother and sister, the rock and roll music blaring, his brother, double-checking twice the crossover bar strap.

It had seemed like a simple ride, round in a circle, up and down, wavy.  I hadn’t noticed that it went so fast.  There were other young children.  They seemed to do fine.  But in retrospect, none were quite as young as Johnny.  There wasn’t one of those ‘must be taller than this’ signs so I trusted their judgment.  I hadn’t noticed that the ride goes faster and faster and that it lasted such a long time until I heard the voice of the DJ say, “let’s go a little faster” and I watched my son’s face.

The first time around was fine but the speed picked up and the music grew louder and lights started flashing and then I noticed the wave affect.  The second time around the face of fear set in.  I never really heard his scream.  I only saw him scream.  I saw a scared scream, a real scream, a “I’m not having fun” scream.  I saw his screaming eyes.  I saw his screaming mouth open wide.  The music grew louder and the lights flashed and again the DJ says, “let’s go a little faster!” And everyone was loving it, laughing and swinging their arms, except one little unsupecting, trusting soul.

Stop! Please stop! I wanted to scream. “I made a mistake.  He isn’t old enough.  I didn’t know.”  But I couldn’t stop it.  I could only stand there and watch as it went round and round, picking up speed each time.  His frightened face flashed past, faster and faster, his older brother struggling to comfort him, covering his eyes.

I saw his screaming mouth open wide and then close, his body go stiff, his brother’s arms wrapped around him as they flashed past, again.  “Let’s go a little faster,” the DJ says again.  NO! NO! STOP! STOP! How much longer is this going to last?  Fun faces flashed faster, dotted with the young frightened face of my child and then, the music finally slowed and the lights dimmed as they climbed out and staggered towards me.  I sighed, relieved, picked him up and asked, softly, “how was it?”

“Dead,” he said.  “I got dead.”