Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Awww, shucks

Hanging out in the blogosphere continues to be more fun than I ever imagined. Where else can you be creative, expressive yourself and peruse at random the stomping grounds of talented writers, photographers, artists, etc.

An additional bonus is getting to know other bloggers who share their talent and deliver unexpected friendship.

I am blushing with girly delight at having received a “Friendly Blogger” award from the delightful d.s. at Third-Storey Window.

Twice before when honored with awards I was too shy to pass along the good fortune. But now I want to recognize a few cyber friends who have extended considerable kindness to me.

First to Sandie at Quirkyloon and Marvin at Free Spirit because they were there from the beginning to offer support and patiently answer questions. Grazie, merci, many thanks.

And then to Kathleen at Easy For Me to Say and Lola at AGLIO, OLIO & PEPERONCINO. They are gracious, lovely women – both so talented – who take the time to grace my blog with their insights, wit and wisdom.

I would have also given the award to Distracted by Shiny Objects, but she’s already been distinguished as a Friendly Blogger by another admirer. I just wanted to let her know I appreciate her amazing sense of humor and her incredible poetic spirit.

Go forth, all my fellow bloggers, and spread your talent and kindness. There can never be too much of either in the blogosphere, or in the world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zombie Haiku, do you?

Pop culture fads and trends are generally short lived, but this Zombie craze seems to just keep rolling on.

A very imaginative young man named Ryan Mecum has crossed cultures by taking this walking corpse phenomenon into the Zen world of Haiku. He even creates in the voice of some of our favorite writers and poets. Such as:

by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle
into that zombie plagued night.
And take the shotgun.

by Sylvia Plath
From head to black shoe,
daddy, I had to eat you
because I’m starving.

by Robert Frost
Two lobes in the skull.
I eat the bloodier one –
not much difference.

by e.e. cummings
if anyone lived
in this wretched how town (they)
would be soon eaten.

by Emily Dickinson
I heard a fly buzz
when I became a zombie.
That was one loud bug.

by Walt Whitman
Every skin atom
form’d from this soil, this air,
tastes like chicken meat.

by William Shakespeare
To bite through the skull
or beat it against the wall?
That is the question.

And our favorite song writers/recording artists:

"Earth Died Screaming" – Tom Waits
Blood is really warm.
It's like drinking hot chocolate
but with more screaming.

"Via Chicago" - Wilco
I know he can't see
because the room is pitch black
and I have his eyes.

"My Father's House" – Bruce Springsteen
Thinking about dad
makes me think of better times
but then back to meat.

And then he takes contributions from friends:

If zombies smoked pot
maybe they would skip the brains
and settle for cake.
- Doug Benson, writer and comedian regularly seen on Best Week Ever

Veins and brains are tough
Stringy bits catch in my teeth
Chew well, then swallow
- Jeff Mariotte, author of River Runs Red and 100’s of wonderful comics

You are my desire.
Eating your luscious love thoughts
My Junk Just Dropped Off
- Christopher Moore, author of many great books including You Suck: A Love Story

If this just leaves you wanting more, you can visit his web site at “Zombie Haiku” where you can read more excerpts and even see his homemade TV commercial.

The fun continues....and your Haiku contributions are welcomed.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'll have what you're having

Hmmmm. What do you think they are ordering?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"I love you man"

Ahhh. Isn’t this just about the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen. Not to pawn my prejudiced opinion off on you, but really. A cat grooming a dog. Doesn’t happen everyday.

This is Murphy and Vinny….the early days. Vinny came to live with us as a wee kitten when Murph was about a year old. Even with the difference in size, they became very good friends. I have some video of them wrestling that is amazingly entertaining. Vinny pouncing around like a baby roo and Murph in the downward dog pose egging him on.

Everyone can use a smile to start the week , so I offer them up as my contribution to Mellow Yellow Monday.

Murph is part golden and I refer to Vin as a yellow tabby, though I suppose he’s more orange. He does have vibrant yellow eyes, however. I think that puts the color requirement in order.

The boys lived in wonderful, playful harmony for almost a year. Then a young jezebel Calico named Lola came to live with us. She caught Vinny’s fancy and the bromance went to the back burner.

Now it’s the female feline that gets the grooming, the mischievous romping and all the love. Can’t say that I blame Vin though. As you can see, Lola Palooza, with her moon pie face, is quite a beauty.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tickle me with vernacular

I am fascinated by language and in the past have written a couple posts about it. My enthrallment with the origins of verbal communication is boundless and the process of how words were created boggles my mind.

I mean think about it. Were two cavemen walking along when one picks up a round heavy object and says, “Let’s call this a rock.” How did all the other cavemen (and women) know that decision had been made?

I’m sure there was a natural progression and I suppose I really need to do more research. But for now I continue with my fancy of the vernacular, the lexicon, idioms and more.

There is a fun Web site dedicated to phrases and their origins. You can even sign up for "Phrase of the Week." Below I’ve stuck in a bit of the quiz found on the site. Check it out and see how much you know.

'Umbrage' was first
A type of medicine
A town in the west of England
A shady area

'Woe is me' was first used in

Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Shakespeare's Hamlet
The Bible

'Humble pie' was
The first meal served to monks after Christmas
A variant of 'umble pie', i.e. a pie made from innards
Named after the Victorian stable keeper James Humble

'A cock and bull story' originated
In France, with the term cock a l'ane, meaning fanciful story
From cock fighting terminology
At the Cock and Bull coaching inns in Buckinghamshire

'Rack and ruin' derives from
The names of the two jesters at the court of Henry VIII
A variant of 'wreck and ruin'
A reference to sunken ships, which became covered with bladderack seaweed

'Currying favour' derives from
A variant of 'carrying favour'
The name of a mythical French horse
The flavouring of curry

'Run Amuk' comes from
The Old English for 'run a mile'
The Norse word 'runeamic' meaning pillage
The Malayan word 'amok', meaning frenzy

'The green-eyed monster', referring to jealousy comes from

One of the seven deadly sins
Shakespeare's Othello
Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd
The Incredible Hulk

'Namby Pamby' was
A nursery rhyme character
A soft cheese
A parodying name for the poet Ambrose Philips

'Left in the lurch' comes from
The French card game lourche
A bride left jilted at the church's lych gate
Left for dead at the side of the road
The name of a prison cell in the Tower of London

You can find the answers to the above by clicking here.

What’s your favorite phrase?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sensitivity and perception?

Recently while cleaning out some old boxes, I came across my scrapbook from high school. Yes...way, way before the scrap booking craze. No fancy borders or cutesy flowers. Just pictures, articles, programs, etc. scotch taped very haphazardly into a big ledger.

In my junior year the school started a creative writing class for handpicked students. I'm not sure what the criteria was for selection, but I was very excited to be chosen. It meant I would be in a class that was half seniors. In the day that was a very big deal.

It seems we had an assignment to write poetry and somehow a couple of my creations got published in the local newspaper. Reading back over them now, I've decided that I was a sad mixture of pretentious and weird.

Continuing with the theme of smiling (or laughing out loud), I'm offering up my early work to the blogosphere.


Life is but a carousel
where the world seems to go around.
But it's not the world --
it's we.

Some of our riders are light
and easy to bear;
Others are heavy --
they burden us with grief.

We must carry our passengers
and appreciate our joys,
for soon the carousel will go
no more.


I ride my pony swift and fast,
but I cannot escape
from savages who challenge me
and shoot and stab and rape.

My hour has come, and death I fear
will soon make dust of me.
It's closing in!
It's getting near!
Oh, God, help me to flee.

I fell it hit my body now;
it pierces swift and fast,
and where I see it clear --
the flag is at half mast.

It's very dark now where I am,
but do not mourn for me.
For fear has gone far, far away,
and I am finally free.

Eeegads. It's even more mortifying when I type it out and reread it. Something about seeing it in newsprint made it appear less embarrassing. For what it's worth, here is what the paper said about the poems.

Pyzahn, a junior in the Creative Writing class, is one of the students who shows great promise. Her pair of poems, "Life" and "Death" exhibit sensitivity and perception as well as a competence in the use of words and phrases.

I swear the "critic" was not my mother.

Please feel free to share your poetic masterpieces here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Smile and the world smiles with you

I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.
~Author Unknown

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My man Travis

For many years, I’ve had it bad for a tall, tan, sandy-haired guy with pale grey eyes. His name is Travis McGee and just thinking about him makes me smile….a mischievous, world weary, be-still-my-heart smile.

Travis is an intelligent, introspective man. One of the things I like best about him is that he loves – and respects – women. You know you would be safe with him. He works as a salvage consultant, which is similar to a bounty hunter, except he finds things instead of people.

Typically that work puts him in direct contact with mean folks who like to bully, swindle and cheat already down trodden people. So what fuels Travis is honor, obligation and outrage.

Unfortunately Travis is a work of fiction. He came from the imagination of John D. MacDonald. But fortunately, that allowed me to have a satisfying relationship with McGee for over twenty years. I probably couldn’t say that if he was flesh and blood.

MacDonald is also a hero to me -- a legend in writing circles. Respected, honored, copied, critically-acclaimed and successful. His career spanned decades, including 21 McGee novels, and his work elevated the genre of crime novels. He’s known to have influenced admirers from Elmore Leonard to Stephen King to Jimmy Buffet. And his books challenged the changing landscape of Florida long before the general public was conversant with the concept of environmentalism.

As my contribution to Mellow Yellow Monday, I’m featuring the cover of MacDonald’s novel, “One Fearful Yellow Eye”. All of the McGee novels contain a color and I’m happy to say, I have every color published.

Additionally, I dedicate this post to my fellow blogger and crime writer, Cormac. He doesn’t list MacDonald on his blog and I want to change that.

A short excerpt from “One Fearful Yellow Eye”:

I have to keep remembering at all times that sweet little old lady on the veranda in Charleston, South Carolina, the one who told me the story of her life in a sighing little voice, story so sad that my eyes were misty and my voice thick by the time she shot at me with the Luger she was holding in her lap under the corner of her shawl. The slug took a little bit out of the side of the collar of my white shirt and exposed a dime-sized piece of blue necktie.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

For a minute there...

I was just glancing through the TV Guide and I saw a listing for a program called "Heli-Loggers". My heart skipped a beat. For a minute I thought it said, "Hell Bloggers".

I think I'm spending too much time on the blog roll.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I can’t help but wonder

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer. Mostly about form and content.

Being raised Catholic, I was brought up with the recitation format. Many “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys”. A whole lot of the “Acts of Contrition.”

The first time my Baptist cousin said grace and began speaking extemporaneously, I was startled. I remember curiously peeking out at him from my bowed head. I was surprised by the intimacy of praying from the heart instead of reciting someone else’s words.

Today I wonder what weight is given to the choice of our expression, the duration of our request. Does substance matter? Does repetition provide impact or rise above the clutter?

Honestly, this curiosity has come about because typically I pray, as part of my ritual, before I go to sleep. The problem is I usually fall asleep before I finish my prayers. Or my A.D.D. addled brain skips off to a different thought. So I can’t help but question if I’m short changing the people I’m praying for.

Is it enough to ask, “Please watch over So-in-so”? Or do I need to elaborate? Once I make my request, do I need to make it again? And again? Is there power in repetition? Are my own words better than a practiced prayer?

Yes, as I write this I realize I’m over analyzing. I know in my heart it’s the intention that matters. It’s my head that’s whirling with wonder.

The introspection is sincere. I have a curious beast within that is looking for nourishment. Will you share your thoughts and practices?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Faux fashion week in the flatlands

A couple of years ago my good pal, Deni, gave me one of my favorite birthday presents ever. Not a big thing. But quite thoughtful and packed with fun. It was a packet of paper dolls. Not an ordinary doll, though. It was a reproduction from the Queen Holden collection first published in the 1920s that eventually sold over 28,000,000 copies.

And the most exciting part….the doll she gave me was named “Pat”. Hint: Pyzahn is not my real name.

How cool is that?

Little Pat came with a full wardrobe of era appropriate clothing, with tabs on each garment marked in her name. I guess if you had multiple dolls back in the day you would need to keep their clothes separate.

The other morning when I should have been walking the dogs or running errands, I decided to stage a fashion show. I know I’m a bit late for Fashion Week, but Little Pat deserves her moment in the spotlight.

Pictured above, “L.P.” is wearing traditional light weight wool coat. The simple design and navy color depict the classic style of the times. It’s topped by a delightful cap that frames the stylish pig tails. Her bare legs look cold, but fortunately the snowy background is only a paint-by-number picture.

Here we see “L.P.” showing off her striped party dress. I wanted her to twirl for the camera, but those little paper legs don’t offer a lot of movement possibilities. Did you notice that the dapper red hat is fashionably monogrammed with her name? (Styling note: the sweet calf was carved by my father!)

Ready for a tea party or coloring in her book, this perky yellow number trimmed in blue is a perfect accent for her eyes. Thanks to an unexpected breeze, you can also get a peek at the frilly pantaloons. The cats are quite chic themselves in their hot red bow ties.

Trends are fashionably mixed here – the wide leg pant made famous by Kathryn Hepburn and the lederhosen suspenders favored by Heidi. This comfortable, yet stylish romper is perfect for a cool day at the beach. More the Hamptons than Big Sur.

For a walk in the spring garden, a pretty-in-pink frock is matched with a classic cardigan. Notice the versatile blue cap comes into play again making this a complete fashion package. But if “L.P.” picks my flowers again, she’s going back into the box for a very long time out.

Thanks for attending the Little Pat fashion show. If you have any interest in acquiring paper dolls of your own, you can find them at B. Shackman & Co, who also makes charming Victorian valentines, Christmas ornaments, vintage masks, etc.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The colors of spring

Springtime in the flatlands finds the landscape brightened by colorful pansies. They are the “go to” flower for the cool spring months. You can find their happy, open faces framed by almost every shade of color found in nature.

While I love them all, and want them all, I always end up buying the brilliant yellow ones. I put them in pots on my back steps where that splash of sunshine can be frequently enjoyed. As I exit the garage for my house, they seem to dance in the breeze and offer a friendly “Welcome home.”

Today I feature them as my contribution to Mellow Yellow Monday.

For the past ten spring seasons I have been lucky enough to work part time at a sweet garden nursery not far from my home. For those two months, it is without a doubt the best job to be had. I’m outside in the sun, enjoying fresh air, playing in the dirt and talking about plants.

The discount on flowers is also a definite perk. By the end of the season, typically I have made just enough money to pay for what I purchased. The new stuff I learn and the friendships I make are an especially satisfying bonus.

Also pictured here are my back porch pots, which along with pansies, contain lovely linaria. And the rose-like beauties are ranunculus. All of these plants are what we refer to at the nursery as DBJs – dead by June. Nursery humor. But the sad fact is that their tender anatomy cannot tolerate the summer heat of the flatlands.

Wherever you are, I hope you enjoy the colors of spring. Maybe not quite yet, but soon.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An easy mistake to make

When a paparazzo tried to photograph the 12-year-old daughter of actor Woody Harrelson, Harrelson went after him. After a chase through New York's LaGuardia Airport, Harrelson smashed the paparazzo's main camera and stormed off, all of it was caught on video.

When asked for an explanation, Harrelson said he mistook the paparazzo for a zombie.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Splendor in the grass

We are very fortunate here in St. Louis to have one of the finest botanical organizations in the country. Maybe even the world. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Landmark, the oldest botanical garden in the US, and a world leader in horticulture research. There are 79 acres of magnificent gardens and rare botanical collections.

Can you tell I’m proud?

We were even more fortunate a few years back to have a world class exhibition of work by the master artist of glass blowing, Dale Chihuly. He was commissioned by the garden to design and install work created specifically for this location.

And it was spectacular.

I’m thinking of it this Easter week because visiting the installation was similar to the thrill of an egg hunt. As you walked the grounds, you just never knew what you were going to find or when another amazing piece of glass sculpture was going to appear.

Designed to work into the environment, glass art was nestled among moss, floating in ponds, hidden in rocky crevices, bursting from grasslands, hiding in a water falls, Just when you thought you’d seen the best, another dazzling piece would present itself.

Now I love an overflowing Easter basket as much as the next person, but this experience was even better than chocolate bunnies.

Here are a few images of the dramatic installations.

Happy Easter. Joyous Passover.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

You could be here

As we all grow weary of the winter weather, our hearts and minds start daydreaming about a great summer getaway. As you envision yourselves lying on a beach or snoozing in hammock, I’d like to plant a different thought.

A few years back I took one of my most memorable vacations ever. I can’t think of anyway it could have been more satisfying. Blue skies, amazing scenery, natural wonders, fresh air, good food and great people.

My inner most animal (and nature) lover led me to one of the most magical places in the great southwest – Best Friends Animal Sanctuary – located in Angel Canyon in the heart of the Golden Circle in southern Utah.

Best Friends is indeed a sanctuary. Encompassing a five mile spread carved out of the beautiful red rocks, it is home at any given time to about 2000 animals. Dogs, cats, birds, horses, pigs, goats, burros…all are given the opportunity to live out their lives in peace and good health.

Our volunteer vacation started each day with a four hour shift working in one of the dog dormitories, feeding and walking about 15 dogs. I was nervous about the thought of visiting a “shelter”, but Best Friends has done an amazing job of making sure their creatures enjoy a wonderful life. No where did I encounter an animal that looked unhappy.

But it wasn’t all work. After lunch in the employee cafeteria, we would head out for an afternoon of hiking in one of the nearby magnificent national parks that create a ring of natural bliss known as the Golden Circle. Bryce Canyon. Mt. Zion. Lake Powell. The Grand Canyon. All are within an easy drive from the sanctuary.

But enough with the jabbering. A picture is worth a thousand words.

This is the view from the employee cafeteria. It is natural beauty as far as the eye can see. Best Friends was fortunate to acquire the land about 20 years ago when it was affordable. With all this land they were able to develop distinct areas of the sanctuary for different species, allowing all to thrive in harmony with their surroundings.

This is a view of one of the hiking trails in Bryce Canyon. Get in shape before you go. The walk down is a piece of cake, but coming up is another matter. Even if you just dawdle at the top, it’s a spectacular slice of scenery. And the lore of the Hoo Doos is quite charming.

As a girl from the flatlands, I was fascinated by the southwestern flora and fauna. Magnificent trees would pop up out of sand. Wild flowers hung to the side of rock hills. Blooming cactus were brilliantly colored.

This could go on forever, but some famous comedian once said,”…leave them wanting more.” For information on visiting the sanctuary,you can click here. Or if you can’t visit but want to see some happy faces, click here.

If you go, let me know just how wonderful it was. If you have any questions, leave it under comments and I will get back to you.

Happy tails. (Yes, that’s a pun, not a typo.)

p.s. The smiling face pictured at the top is a resident of Best Friends

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pucker up

As a salute to Mellow Yellow Monday, which I discovered by visiting the blog of the lovely Lola, I thought I would post a (somewhat) yellow recipe.

Lemon desserts signal the beginning of spring for me. Light and fresh, with a dash of sass to brighten your day. This Lemon Pudding Sponge Cake is easy to make and it’s doubly delicious because as it bakes it becomes cake on top with a layer of pudding underneath.

It’s absolutely yummy warm out of the oven, but I also love it cool from the fridge when the tart taste of lemon just smacks you in the taste buds. Get ready to pucker up.

With Easter just around the corner, this would make a nice addition to the menu. It only serves six, so if you’re having a large group, you will need to make two. The top of the cake is relatively plain looking, but if you top it with berries, it is quite lovely. I like it with sliced, juicy strawberries, but blueberries or raspberries would be equally nice.

Hope you like it.

Lemon Pudding Sponge Cake

1 C sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter at room temp
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
3 eggs at room temp, separated, yolks slightly beaten
1/4 C all purpose flour
Salt, just a pinch
1¼ C milk (not fat free)
1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fresh berries, optional

Position racks so that the cake will bake in the middle of the oven, preheat to 350. Generously butter an 8” square pan or a 1½ quart baking dish.

Combine in a bowl the sugar, ¼ C butter, lemon zest and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer still running, slowly drizzle in the egg yolks and beat well. Stir in the flour, salt, milk and lemon juice. Set aside.

In a metal bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they form peaks that are stiff but still moist. Stir about one-fourth of the whites into the batter to lighten it. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining whites. Pout the mixture into the prepared baking container.

Place the cake container on a rack set in a large, deep baking pan and transfer to the oven. Pour enough hot (not boiling) water into the large pan to reach about halfway up the side of the cake container.

Bake until the top cake layer is set and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Regulate the oven temp during baking to maintain water at simmering stage (water should not boil).

Remove the cake from the water bath to a wire rack to cool slightly, then serve warm with berries.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Meeting of the minds

If you are of a certain age, you might remember a wonderful show from the late 70s called Meeting of the Minds. It was created by the extremely talented Steve Allen, who was also the originator of The Tonight show. Personal opinion: the guy was amazing.

Cited by one critic as “the ultimate talk show”, the premise of the PBS program was interviewing historic figures, typically with Allen hosting in a round table format. Guests included the likes of Plato, Thomas Jefferson, Marie Antoinette, Charles Darwin, Cleopatra, Karl Marx – obviously with actors portraying them.

Allen would research the heck out of each “guest” and create dialog based on factual historic information, using exact quotes when possible. I think the concept was genius and it just blows my mind how he would pull such diverse characters together and make all this history/dialog not only work, but be extremely relevant.

So that got me to thinking, if I could host a dinner party with anyone, living or not, who would I invite. Here’s my guest list. Black tie optional.

St. Francis of Assisi: With my love of animals, this is a no brainer. He’s also the patron saint of the environment and Italy making him a triple threat. He championed the poor, creatures great/small and nature, so in today’s sad state of affairs, I think he would speak well to the current ills of the world.

Golda Meir: She brings political experience from a woman’s perspective. Known to be strong-willed and straight talking, I believe she would be a smart, informed dinner guest.

Joseph Campbell: His philosophy is often summarized by the phrase coined by him, "Follow your bliss". A background in studying the human experience makes him a great addition for the social chemistry. I think his intelligent curiosity would keep conversation flowing.

Mary Magdalene: She is one of the most complicated biblical women and historians vary greatly in their writings of her life. I’d like to get the real story. Plus I wanted someone from the life of Christ but I think Jesus himself would be too distracting.

That’s a serious group. I think I need to lighten it up a bit. So…

Dorothy Parker: The mix definitely needs some spunk and Dorothy is a good old broad, in the best sense of the word. She’d probably try to bed St. Francis, but the rejection would lead to a fun story. Her language would color the evening.

Stephen Colbert: I wanted a contemporary figure and his probing sense of humor would also shake things up. Can you see him interviewing Mary M! Plus, I have a crush on him so it’s self serving.

There are so many compelling choices and I probably have room for one or two more guests. Any suggestions? Or maybe you have put together a party of your own. Don’t make me guess…whose coming to dinner?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In the beginning…

R. Crumb, the cartoonist famous for creating Zap Comix and Head Comix has just finished his latest project. It’s a massive retelling of the first book of the Bible….”Robert Crumb’s Book of Genesis”.

Crumb is an American artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream. He was founder of the underground comix movement and is regarded as its most prominent figure. Not a typical choice for a biblical work.

But this ain’t no April Fool’s joke. The wild, wacky, dissident spent four years on the project which is to be published in October. He was quoted as saying:

“It’s a lot of fun doing Genesis, actually, It’s very visual. It’s lurid. Full of all kinds of crazy, weird things that will really surprise people.”

I haven’t seen or read any Crumb work in a long time, but this should be very interesting. And if you haven’t seen the documentary on his life, it’s well worth the rental.

And God saw that it was good.
Genesis, 1. 10