My Secret Keys

Here they are. Or not. You decide….

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My keyboard on a Wednesday morning

I thought it might be my habit of eating potato chips at my desk. Yes, tsk, tsk. Let’s leave that for another day.

But it turns out to be a known issue with black keyboards coated with an unidentified white substance. Is that paint? Ink? Whatever it is, it fades. But, by fading, it reveals.

What, exactly? In my case, several letters have gone into hiding: O, L, M. N is completely gone, and E (not shown in the photo) is simply a thin white line.  Hmmmm…….


Guess that’s the Code Word of the Day.

Carry on.





All day the sky has been silver and the wind, constant. They are joined in a way that we can never be.

Once upon a time, we drove through places that had empty land and constant wind. From time to time, we saw sheets and clothing on the line, moving opposite of our trajectory.

We knew that we didn’t belong. So we kept going.

Moving, but never quite escaping.



It’s hard to believe that three weeks ago, millions of us were on the road, heading off to watch the great wonder of the Solar Eclipse.

Today, Sophie the Gray is howling on the back porch, expressing her displeasure at being exiled from the house. Sorry, Sophie: vet’s orders. We need to keep the cats apart for the weekend in order to monitor Cleo the Bold, who sounds like a small, broken engine. Twice a day, I must track Cleo down, wrap her in a towel, cradle her in my arms, and administer oral medications. Two syringes of yuck. She hates it, and lets me know by hissing as I set her down. But within minutes, she has forgiven me, and comes to keep me company at my keyboard.

She might be fine. She might be dying. We must wait and see.

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Above it All: Tom Barrett photo, courtesy of Unsplash

Yesterday, because it was such a beautiful day, I took the back roads home from the grocery store. Publix had restocked water and other essentials. I noticed a woman crossing the street, carrying a gallon jug of water in each hand. Behind her, in a carport, the back hatch of a small car stood open. She, too, had been to the grocery store. And now she was delivering water to her neighbor. We chatted for a moment, strangers to each other, but aware of the need for connection.

I drove on, windows down, comforted by the exchange. Everything would be okay, I told myself, and then I burst into tears.

We will get through this. We will.

Irma continues to churn. From time to time, she turns our way. She is ruthless. And so is Jose. Nothing personal. It’s Hurricane Season. Fifty days to go.

By the way, the local newspaper is providing free coverage for now, as we drift in and out of the path of the storm.


We were a long way away from the storm when the water ran out. That sounds like fiction but it wasn’t.  On Tuesday, August 30, 2017, there was an unexpected run on water at the local grocery stores. Shelves were empty. Not a storm in sight.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop, courtesy of Upsplash

But after Harvey (six days after, to put a bookmark on things), all it took was the news that a storm had formed out in the Atlantic. It was only a Tropical Storm, but it was a system born in the water off the coast of Cape Verde. As if beyond this map lay monsters.

And they do. But this time of year, they escape. And they come seeking water. Ravenous beasts.

This morning, there was plenty of water at the grocery store. The local Publix had a police escort to rush the water back up here to the shelves. I bought two gallons for 59 cents each, even though we have plenty of tap water.

There was something comforting about the idea of water contained. Safe in the closet. For now.

Matagorda in the Morning

Matagorda sounds like a bull-fighting term. A dramatic sweep of red silk across a blood-soaked, sunlit arena.
 But matagorda is a Spanish word that means ‘thick brush.”
It’s also the name of a small town on the Gulf Coast of Texas, established in 1827 by Stephen Austin while the land was still part of Mexico. The town sits on the banks of the Colorado River.
It’s also the name of an estuary bay located on the Gulf of Mexico. This is roughly the area where Harvey has *taken a turn back out into the Gulf. But at least the estuary has the chance to absorb the storm.  Let it be a thick brush that soaks up the water.
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NOAA Map of Harvey August 28, 2017

Because, unfortunately, Harvey is forecast to make landfall again and head north in a day or two. Towards Houston. But – praying here – without the intensity. More rain, though. How much and for how long, remains to be seen.

If you are looking for great on-the-ground weather reports, I highly recommend Space City Weather. Two guys and a storm named Harvey.

* Note: I had things backwards regarding Harvey – out to the Gulf at Matagorda, not making landfall. Guess I was just trying to hurry this damned storm along.

Red Truck, Red Light

On my way back from the side trip into the life of Ms. Kelly at the mall, I was stopped at the light, getting ready to turn left on to Lovejoy Road. Mary Esther Boulevard had the green light and the right of way.

We had a red arrow, and that was fine by me. The vehicle ahead of me got tired of waiting for the light to change, so they pulled out when the traffic cleared and went their way up the boulevard. I was now first in line.
Enough time had passed that I wondered if the lights were working when they suddenly turned yellow. And then red. Traffic continued through the intersection. What are red lights when you have things to do and places to be?
But finally  the intersection cleared. Up ahead, I saw a red truck coming down Mary Esther Boulevard. Coming faster than was normal to stop at the red light.
Cars had already started turning left from Lovejoy Road onto Mary Esther Parkway. But the red truck kept coming. I could feel the impact of the red truck on the silver SUV that was moving through the intersection.
So I leaned on the horn. I leaned hard.
The red truck slowed. The silver SUV sped up. The second car on Lovejoy Road stopped. The red truck swept through by like a boat on a busy river. I could see the driver, mouth open, phone still held to her head, possibly still talking without a pause, as if death had never stepped into the intersection, waiting for her call.
Note: the photo image in this post was taken by Sasha Lebedeva.

Thoughts on Harvey

If you are familiar with either the play or the movie, then perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, Harvey, is a large, invisible rabbit.

No such thing as invisible rabbits in the Gulf of Mexico in late August. But then again, Harvey turned out to be real. A gentle giant. No such thing can be said of the storms that form in the heat of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

But they – rabbits and storms – are natural things. Like ants. And stars. And cicadas.

Cicada photo credit Wikipedia

A few days back, we stopped at a Welcome Center in Kentucky located just off of Interstate 65. A man was standing on the sidewalk, in the shade of a circle of trees. He was surrounded by a roar of noise that had nothing to do with the big trucks roaring by on I-65.

Cicadas? I asked. He grinned. You bet. We agreed that we’d never heard them be so loud. It’s probably the eclipse, I joked. Probably, he said. But you won’t need to worry until your dog starts speaking in tongues. And then we went on our way. A pair of wags, wandering through the universe.

The man at the Welcome desk asked if there was something he could help me with. I asked him about the cicadas. Why are they so loud?

It’s their last 24 hours, he replied, in that tone of voice more suited to a funeral parlor than a Welcome Center guide.

How do you know it isn’t their first 24 hours? That they aren’t just happy to be alive? But he didn’t answer. It was as if I hadn’t made a sound.

As for Harvey, I prefer the James Stewart version of events. Be safe out there.


Oops: A Still Life

Spent about thirty minutes marking and sketching out lines and shapes and relationships – the fruits and their reflections in the folding mirror – only to realize that I forgot about the mirrors. Oops.

All of the fruits need to move a few inches. But they’re tired and refuse to budge. Can’t say that I blame them. Another time, then.

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Still life with mirror(s)

Went back in with light green chalk and charcoal to mark the ‘true’ lines of reflected mirror (the one that points at the step ladder in the background).

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Poor green apple in the background … right time, wrong place

Oh well, it’s only chalk. And paper.

Happy Saturday!!!!



Coffee with Ganesh: 071117

Somehow, I got away from the habit of sketching in the morning. Not sure why, because it’s a wonderful way to start the day. Fresh cup of coffee, the sun room beckoning, silent except for the hum of the window a/c and the chatter of the birds in the yard.

White paper. A box of pencils, a stick of charcoal. An eraser – not to remove mistakes, but to deliver the shapes of shadows and hints of the darkness to come.

Now … what to sketch? Not fruit, though I really must do something about that lemon, forgotten from a still life painting over the 4th of July weekend. Something beckons from the window above the sink: Ganesh, the Hindu God of Good Fortune.

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Ganesh, made of some sort of metal, has developed a wonderful patina over the years. And dust. Could probably use a good cleaning, but not today.

I put together a framework for a still life: a heavy bi-fold mirror that stands on its own, and if it fell over, would probably break something.  I add a drape of muslin, to cover the surface of the mirror, and then Ganesh.

He looks a bit silly there, alone in a muslin sea. I lean forward and turn him sideways. Hmmm. No. A tilt, then? Yes.

And so we begin. Both of us starting over. Things look different from this angle.

In looking for a clean sheet of paper to capture the beauty of Ganesh, I find my notes from a drawing class: start with the general, not the specific. But this is a God, I want to say.

Oh for God’s sake, someone – Ganesh? The Muslin?-  mutters, it’s just a morning sketch. Remember those? And so I begin.

Outline, squint. Mark. Squint. More marks. Stop and measure. Pencil in my left hand, arm out, point touching the air of A, thumb pressing against probable landing point of B. Make a notch with charcoal. Turn the pencils sideways. Repeat. Squint. Then angle from top of cap to end of tusk. Ear to ear. Keep going. Charcoal, fingertips, charcoal, eraser.

Ganesh hums in the background. Or maybe it’s the birds at the bird feeder. The world sails away.

Later, I put them together, the ‘real’ Ganesh and the pencil/charcoal sketch. Not bad, given that he was two feet away and set at an extreme angle. Go, team!


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Testing … 1-2-3

Have a lovely day, and may fortune smile upon you!

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Ganesh Coffee Sketch 071117