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a pineapple slice
of symbolic welcome change
November New Year

“No! You’re a pineapple!”

I wasn’t even there for the origin of this haiku’s story. My husband and our friends overheard this silly exclamation while they were relaxing during one of my last stints at auction, for Barrett-Jackson in June. Such a strange and unlikely phrase. What in the world did it mean?

It didn’t matter, because it grew legs, donned socks (more on that later) and stayed with them for the rest of the weekend and in the coming months. Random texts would be exchanged:

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Any time a pineapple was encountered, photos were shared:

In October, I was checking in at the Mandalay Bay auction-site hotel in Las Vegas when I saw this mannequin:

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I didn’t have a new job. I was in the midst of interviewing for what I hoped would be my next step. So I took this strange combination of images as a good sign – a simultaneous ending (farewell Barrett-Jackson) and beginning (hello fresh new opportunity at Sprouts). Optimistic? Perhaps. Reading too much into one’s environment? Maybe. But these things can’t be helped. At least not for me.

I passed this every day for the 12 days I stayed and worked at Mandalay Bay. Of course, I snapped this photo to send to my husband. What a bizarre image!

My sweet husband took it upon himself to drive the five hours to come visit me in Vegas for a quick-turnaround overnight stay. On his last night, the last night of the auction, we celebrated with a late dinner. On our way back to the room, we stopped at a sock store. When we saw the pineapple socks, we knew we had to get them for the wife friend of the origin story. They were sent a few days after my return from Vegas. (See? I told you we’d get back to the socks!)

The next week, on October 31st, I went in for a third interview. It took me several minutes into the conversation, with the Director of Marketing, to fully process what she was wearing. I mean, the diminutive yellow and green lace crown was unusual – but maybe it was her birthday. The yellow lace sheath dress: chic. Then I saw the tiny gold pineapple earrings and necklace. OHMYGOD! She was subtly and stylishly dressed as a… PINEAPPLE, a very professional pineapple. It was, hands down, the most professional and subtle costume I’ve ever seen. Nicely done.

“I have no idea why I’m dressed this way,” she confided blithely, “You can ask anyone. I’m not into the costume thing. I blame it on my kid.”

Wow. I’m interviewing with a pineapple, a symbol of welcome, friendship and hospitality. If that didn’t seem like a sign from the universe…

Insert another week passing. I consult with my husband on Saturday night about giving my notice on Monday morning even though I didn’t have a job offer. I wanted the two-week clock ticking. I was ready to be done, even if it meant cashiering at Kohl’s for the holiday season. (I know what you’re thinking, “What about Target? They’re always hiring.” Yes. I know. I’ve done that already, you see.)

On Sunday morning, I’m good with the decision to give my notice on Monday. My husband, however, thinks we need to see three pineapples in order to be sure.

I shrug. “Okay. But if we don’t see them, I’m still giving my notice. I feel okay about it.” By way of response, he smiled.

At the grocery store, the grocery store, you know, where food is purchased, I see a sock stand. And yes, you guessed it. We left the store with food and a pair of pineapple socks for me. I would wear these on Monday when I gave my notice. The pineapple power socks that no one would see.

At a friend’s house for dinner that night, we were asked what we wanted to drink, “Wine, beer, something with pineapple juice?”

Collectively: “WHAT!?!” a meaningful glance at one another, “Definitely pineapple.” A pause, “Should we tell them? We should tell them.”

Walking into their kitchen, there on the kitchen counter was… a pineapple. Naturally.

I wore my grocery-store-purchased pineapple socks, gave my notice, received a job offer the next afternoon and will start my new job, as Brand Content Coordinator at Sprouts, on Monday after Thanksgiving.

Thank you for joining me on this (mostly) brief roundabout of gratitude. Exit here! You’re in the right place! There is a pineapple waiting for you! Happy Thanksgiving. 🙂

crazy sailor’s catch
peculiar blend of boredom
and taxidermy

We call him the Reverend Doctor Blackwell. He’s the head of the recording studio at the Arizona Talking Book Library where we volunteer on Thursday nights.

Each Thursday night, the RDB reveals some new wonderful thing in the Mystery Box. Sometimes it’s recognizable, like the straitjacket (with a demonstration on how easy it is to escape) or dodo bird. Other times it tickles long-ago memories from childhood, in the case of Chang and Eng, the conjoined twins that I’d read about in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! And then there are the numerous Mystery Box items of which I’m completely unaware. The Feejee Mermaid was last week’s delightfully macabre discovery. (Did I just use those two words in conjunction with one another?!)

I won’t even bother to try and recreate the performance of the RDB because there is no comparison to the real thing. (We work on him weekly to create a YouTube or Vimeo site – we’d subscribe!) But you can read all about the Feejee Mermaid in the link provided.

opportunity
wears myriad disguises
even crazy hair

I’m not going to say anything here that you probably haven’t already read on Facebook. But, like everyone else, I feel the need to express myself about this election.

On Tuesday morning, after reading the definitive outcome of the election, I swung first to despair. This was quickly replaced by the words of another president, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

Hm. I thought. This is an opportunity for me to find new ways to try to shine a little bit brighter in my world. What can I do to be of service in my community?

I’m a big believer that action is the only antidote to despair. (Having battled deep and sometimes disabling depression my entire life, I am uniquely qualified and have worked hard to earn the wisdom of this statement. It can be gained elsewhere. I’m simply explaining that this concept is not just words on paper for me. It is actual life-saving, growth-inducing verbage. Hard-won truth, as it were.)

This morning, I took the time to read the entire inaugural speech delivered by John F Kennedy in 1961. (Available online at the JFK Library.) It was a great speech. Surprising to me, or perhaps not surprising, is how salient, poignant and still timely his message was. I’d recommend it as inspirational reading, should you feel you need a bit of motivation.

The other quote that echoed back to me is “Be the change you wish to see.” A pithy bit of writing that is attributed to Gandhi. It’s not. It’s someone’s distillation of a longer and deeper quote by the spiritual and political giant.

Still. Opportunity knocked on my door Tuesday morning – a trick-or-treater in orange makeup, goofy hair and a bag full of wind. I boldly stepped past him, into the greater world, in search of things I can do, however small, to make a brighter, kinder difference in my world.

I leave you with the words of someone far greater a writer and being than I:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” –Mahatma Gandhi

dajiban racing
an ungainly elegance
that speaks of passion

A wide and unstoppable grin spread across my face. It stayed for not only the duration of the video I was watching, but for the rest of the day. And whenever I think about this video I smile.

DAJIBAN!

What is this word? It is a word for passion, or at least one sort of passion. A quite specific one actually: The Japanese passion for racing Dodge vans. Mm-hm. Racing. Dodge. Vans.

It’s pretty spectacular.

Watching the video (courtesy of my awesome bosses) is to catch the coattail of something wonderful. It might not be your idea of wonderful. I can tell you it certainly wasn’t mine. And yet, there it is, passion, in living, breathing, V8-powered, gorgeous, human color.

The video is about 11 minutes. It might be worth your while.

When I interned at the Conservation Lab at Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in my final year of grad school, I was sent to help process artifacts in the Archaeology Department for a week. That’s fancy wording for bagging rocks. At least, that was my impression after the first day.

But then something magical happened. The guy I was working for started to talk about these rocks I was bagging. His entire countenance changed and he lit up as he talked about the lithics and what he could see and read in the rock. Each had a story, and he loved each one of those stories. Through his love of lithics a whole world opened up to me. It wasn’t my world or even a world I wanted to hang out in really, but there was something utterly compelling about this guy’s enthusiasm for rocks.

It is really uplifting to be in the presence of someone who loves what they’re doing. Not only that, but it’s infectious. Every time I have basked in the presence of someone who loves something, however quirky that thing might be, I walk away more resolute to follow my own passion.

It was a number of years after grad school, midway through my museum career, that I met The Washing Machine Man of Colorado. (His real name is Lee Maxwell.) I’d heard about him from another colleague. His collection was open to the public but only by appointment. I scheduled a time for a small group of museum professionals to visit.

I had preconceived ideas. I admit it. I expected some grungy dust-covered collection in a dingy barn with a heavy air of half-finished thoughts and meandering oddity that accompanies someone who is not only muttering to himself but… well, a bit crazy. I mean, who in his right mind collects washing machines?

Next to a very tidy turn-of-the-last-century house, were two prefab metal buildings inside of which were housed his vast collection. It went from washboards and wringers to more modern and identifiable machines. The earlier models are the ones he had so lovingly restored. It was inspiring to be among all these things he had worked on – for that attention is a form of love. And to visit, is to bask in love. Yes. It seems kooky. But there was an ineffable quality to being in the presence of that focused attention.

It was magnificent.

When I watched the DAJIBAN! (I just have to write it with an exclamation point! And ALL CAPS because it is that exciting to me.) video – I was reminded of The Washing Machine Man and the Lithics Guy and it made me want to grab the world by its shoulders and shout, “See? There IS great beauty in this crazy world! Go out there and find your quirky thing! Dive in! Get excited! Be a little kooky! In doing so, you might just inspire someone else.”

Go forth and DAJIBAN!

real borborygmus
belly-rumbler of a word
you can look it up

I wasn’t sure I could trust the dusty childhood memory. I tried looking up the word I remembered my brother saying when we were growing up. I remembered it as “borderigmy,” which certainly sounds like a totally made up word. My brother would most often use it at the dinner table or after a meal and would pat his belly saying, “Mmm…borderigmy…” in a funny voice and laugh, which would make me laugh.

The vague and random memory came to me a couple of years ago. I tried all manner of spellings and still came up empty-handed. I had been thinking about what I call my “inner word crow” and how I’d been embracing it more and more. But, I had to relegate the word and the memory to a distant back burner, shrugging inwardly and conceding that I must have misremembered the events, or at the very least, my brother had made up a word with his friends.

A few weeks ago, a trip to one of the first museums I’d ever worked in caused me to reflect on the training I’d received while trying to be a docent. (It didn’t work out. I’m not really docent material – especially not when it comes to natural history. My talents, it turned out, lay elsewhere in the museum world). In any case, the only thing I remembered from my training was this: coprolite.

Yes indeedy. Hours of training and note-taking and I took away the word for fossilized feces. Dinosaur dukey. Paleo poop. Calcified caca. A totally tough turd.

Shortly after the trip, I shared the word coprolite with my sister and mused I’d discovered a collection I could start that wouldn’t take up space anywhere but in my head: I could collect words that could be used as insults the average person wouldn’t discern as insulting. “You old coprolite.” “Don’t be such a coprolite.” “That guy is the king of the coprolites.”**

Or, I could tell my bosses at work about it and they could start using it – which I overheard one of them do just the other day. Huzzah! An old coprolite-of-a-word was shined up and ready for use!

When I shared this love of bizarre words with my sister (the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app for smart phones allows one to keep a list of beloved words. I love this about it!), we bantered back and forth about funny words. She knew widdershins but not syzygy.

As we were talking, she was also looking at her computer. Finally, she turned the screen around to me to show me the word borborygmus. I read the definition: intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas.

“OHMYGOD! That’s the word! That’s the word I was looking for!” I shouted, “Jimmy used to say that! Do you remember that? I thought maybe I made the word up! Or I’d fabricated another memory. I’m so excited!!” I quickly plugged the word into my dictionary to hear how the word was pronounced. Bor-bor-IG-mus. The plural was borborigmi, pronounced with the last syllable sounding like “my” as in, “This is my new word.”

Within the next few days, I shared the word with my bosses and they got a kick out of it. Who knew? A word for intestinal rumblings.

A few weeks later, my brother came to visit to celebrate my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. At some point while he was here, I mentioned the word. He repeated it as sounding like “borborigmee” AH! No wonder I thought the word from my memory sounded different. “Where on earth did you learn that word?” I asked.

A George Carlin routine that he’d listened to, no doubt on a record, at a friend’s house. He admitted it was something he probably shouldn’t have been listening to as a kid, but there it was, the origin of the mystery word I’d been trying to find for a couple of years.

As a complete alpha/omega bookend experience, I told my bosses at work about where my brother had found the word. A few key taps on his iPhone later, one boss found the clip online and, with the door closed to our office, we listened to the George Carlin skit. There it was, among other funny noises humans’ bodies make, borderigmi. Carlin himself mispronounced the pluralized version of the word (admitting he may be saying it wrong). And thus came to a close a vocabulary mystery solved after more than 30 years. Somehow it seemed magical.

In my outing to the Desert Botanical Garden this week, I was pondering the long arc of this story. What started as a genuine interest to know something for the simple joy of learning taught me a deeper lesson. Despite hitting a roadblock in the beginning, unable to find the word at all, the glimmering desire to know the truth never went away. It hovered in my heart for years until, it seems to me, something larger than myself could line up all the pieces necessary to complete the learning process.

It ties into a phrase I got, several decades ago in contemplation when looking at a goal. It was five simple words: Patience and persistence of pursuit. The slow cadence of the story’s unfoldment made it that much sweeter when it fully emerged. I wonder, what other long, slow story arcs are at work in my life that I may have forgotten about? Because now I believe, a genuine desire to know truth will never go unanswered.

 

**As a side note: I don’t generally go around insulting people. The idea for the word collection stemmed from a mug an acquaintance had. It was from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland and it had rows of words on it, all of which were Shakespeare-created insults. This struck me at the time as both terribly clever and funny. I’ve never forgotten it and would gladly buy one if I could do so. Turns out the internet, when one gets all google-y-moogle-y on it, turns up whatever thy heart desires: PBS sells one!

seventy years pass
before full moon greets the sun
in solstice glory

While pondering this week’s haiku, I got sidetracked. But in a lovely, meandering way. Sidetracked sounds too edgy, hard and judgmental. That type of occurrence needs a rounded word. A spiral word that softens the heart but focuses the mind to Soul’s purpose, not ego’s. It was such a lovely journey. Inspiring. Indeed, little side trips like this are inspiring. Sidetracked is the bumbling humpous word that Ego uses to inform us, hands on reprimanding hips, we’ve gone astray from whatever menial (and perhaps meaningless) trip we’re focusing on.

As I typed that last sentence I mistyped “focusing” and instead typed “forcusing.” Immediately: I thought HA! forced focusing = FORCUSING which runs along the same vein as sidetracked. Another ego driven activity.

Let’s propose some new words then, something different from sidetrack. A word to indicate when we’ve stepped onto the magical path where imagination and creation meet to walk off into the sunset. Only the film doesn’t stop rolling there, we’re allowed to tag along this enchanted path that lights up only in their presence.

chariyoyo: Chariot and yoyo – it’s fun. It gallops along and yet kept in hand when it yoyos back with a satisfying smack to our palm and we grasp something new. Yes, perhaps chariyoyo is a candidate.

Example: I got chariyoyoed this morning while researching this year’s solstice and happened across a wonderful website called treehugger.com.

meanderling: It has a cheery way about it – a certain sweetness and simplicity that connects us to the childlike wonder of Soul. If you’ve been meanderling you may have discovered something new in your worlds – or perhaps something ancient and deep like hidden treasure gleaming in the recesses of your inner self.

Example: During this morning’s meanderling, I found out about a book titled Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. And though I already know I love words, the discovery that a work like this exists sparked childlike delight and excitement that continues to ricochet around my imagination motivating my creativity.

sonorisionary: Someone who heeds the call of their inner vision to bring back a gem of insight that may or may not pertain to the masses but adds to the collective raising of human consciousness nonetheless.

Example: Focusing (not forcusing) on something we love – whether it’s words, painting, sculpting, refurbishing old washers or lithics analysis is, in itself, a sonorisionary act. Whether we share that love outwardly in recognizable forms or not, it emanates from us like ripples on the water. And that in turn, seen or unseen, adds to the collective raising of human consciousness.

The sonorisionary is someone who knows how to master the meanderling, who cherishes the chariyoyo. We all do it when we are focusing on something we love. Where does your meanderling take you? When was the last time you were chariyoyoed? Remember, you ARE the sonorisionary.

stretching to see more
with absolute detachment
joyfully engaged

There it was. A large prickly pear cactus whose gorgeous blooms glowed in the morning sunlight. I longed to see the floral springtime creations, but the crown of flowers was well over my head. All I could see was the light shining through the petals.

I grabbed my phone-cum-camera and with my sneaker-clad feet balanced on en point, arms stretched high, I blindly snapped a photo. In that moment, I managed to summon the recipe for Absolute Detachment. I freely share it here:

1 part buoyant hopefulness (use Fully-Open Heart brand)
1 part utter “this probably won’t work” (don’t confuse this with Total Pessimism, it’s similar, but not the same)
1 dash of I-Gotta-Try!

The sun was too bright to see the photo on my phone. I always wait until I’m sipping coffee at the Botanical Garden’s wonderful restaurant before I examine the day’s photographic catch. In the shade of a canvas umbrella, with the fountain burbling next to me, I flip through my photos. This morning, the only one I find truly captivating is the over-the-head shot of the prickly pear flowers.IMG_5209

There is a balance to the composition that I would doubtfully have achieved if I’d tried. I love the surprise visit of the bee and other flying insect enjoying the pollen, as well as the four stages of the flower. Frayed petals move backward through time to newly opened, not-yet-opened and working-into-the-bud. I love the strong diagonal of the cactus pads reaching from top to bottom. And I am especially fond of the shadows in the dirt background formed by the nearby ocotillo-branch ramada.

Being detached conjures images of cool aloofness, a separateness that indicates a strong Us-and-Them mentality where the world is viewed from afar. But this detachment was nothing like that. The I-ness of me disappeared and I joyfully engaged fully with my surroundings. Most importantly, I had no attachment to the outcome. In the moment I snapped that image, without trying, I mastered the above recipe for Absolute Detachment.

Now, where else can I apply that in my life?

yellow confetti
jettisoned by green-barked trees
e petaloso

The moment I heard it my heart opened wide as inwardly I traveled to Italy. There I met Matteo, an eight-year-old schoolboy, who had penned the non-word “petaloso” in his work.

“How clever you are! I love words too. Thank you for creating this one. Did you know Italian is my favorite language? E la piu bella lengua nel mundo.

Petaloso is a combination of the Italian petalo for petal and the suffix –oso or “full of” creating a word for “full of petals.” How lovely and creative and perfectly spring.

In the world of Twitter and Facebook this is so last month. Even though it was trending early this month – but still, with the weeks flying by and loads of things to capture and snag one’s attention, petaloso flashed and passed, replaced by something else again and again.

In the darkness of predawn I woke thinking about Thursday, haiku and the what-will-it-be that happens when I don’t have something bubbling on the back burner. The giant, green-barked palo verde tree at work came to mind. Under it a yellow drift of discarded blossoms. Cherished by the tree, courted by the wind, admired by me.

A small nudge to grab the pocket-sized journal I keep in my purse came to me. My mind wanted to just write the “yellow confetti” in my regular journal, but something else urged me again to grab the tiny booklet. I opened it to the first blank page, and there next to it was:

petaloso
e molto bene!

I was instantly reminded of Matteo’s story, which I’d heard on NPR during my drive to work early this month. It was just what I needed to complete today’s haiku. I hope wherever you are your spring is molto petaloso.

the grey mini
maintenance existence
colorless … capture this somehow please

I emailed these words to myself at the end of a particularly unusual year.

My dear friend Amy had texted the words “maintenance existence” and I tied them to my experience with the grey MINI Cooper I’d seen on my way to work. As we approached it, it wasn’t just grey. Grey has a presence. Like graphite or granite, carbon, clouds or pavement. I kept staring at it and blinking. Looking harder at it and blinking some more. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, but this MINI didn’t look grey like graphite, granite or pavement, it looked like someone had drained the color out of it. Like amongst this Technicolor world, it had been imported from a black and white movie.

I found it profoundly disturbing.

drained of all color
a maintenance existence
among the vibrant

This experience, combined with the words Amy had texted me, reminded me of how I’d been feeling lately. Of what I’d been struggling with inwardly. She’d captured it in two words:

maintenance existence

Any other car wouldn’t have captured my attention. It had to be a MINI Cooper because that is what I drive. I love my car and identify with it so strongly. I couldn’t take my eyes off this grey car I encountered on my commute to work. And no amount of blinking and looking again could bring the color back to it. The color, its lifeblood, had been drained out of it.

My MINI, named Sparky, is Lightning Blue. It is the blue of my dreams. One of the things I love about MINIs is that they come with a crazy, seemingly infinite variety of options. A variety of stripe options, colors, roof colors, mirror colors, interior finishes. There are so many ways to customize a MINI Cooper. What I love about Sparky, is that he is exactly what I wanted. Blue exterior with white top, white mirrors and white sport stripes appointed with 6-speed manual transmission and the climate package – which means heated seats – hooray!

sparkySparky IS my dream car. Looking at this grey MINI was disturbing because it was like looking at a corpse. Life without acknowledging a dream is like that. Colorless. It becomes a maintenance existence. And that was exactly how I had been feeling. Like what stretched before me was a bleak place where nothing but the monotony of the task at hand got done.

This experience reminded me I DO have a dream. I’d forgotten, really. I had put it squarely behind me, in my shadow, and forgotten that it was right there all this time. The only thing I’ve really ever wanted to do and not done. Yet.

Maybe 2016 is the year to put the dream back in front of me. To bring it out of the shadow and into the light. Where I can see it. Where I can breathe color and life back into it.

…everything i
need I have everything
I need I have ev…

“The heart knows what the mind has yet to understand.”

Those words best capture what I heard in my head when I looked at the coaster this morning. It’s the closest I could come to putting words to what came through when I admired the little work of art upon which my coffee cup rested. The coaster has a bright blue, shiny background with aboriginal artwork on it and the word, “Australia” in the lower left corner.

I guiltily took it when it was offered. My heart was drawn to them every time I visited my friend Nancy. I would see them on her kitchen counter, still in the package in which they were purchased. I would open the package, to examine and admire them all, fanning them out like playing cards and running my fingers across each of their multicolored reflective surfaces. My friend’s oldest daughter had brought them back from her travels to Australia. The bright colors and shine attracted the crow in me.

When she offered it to me, I hesitated. My mind did that thing it’s programmed to do. A litany of question-answer-accusation in one, so that it didn’t even need to ask the question, but only tell, tell, tell.

What do you need with a coaster?
You have plenty of coasters.
It’s just one more thing.
You don’t NEED one more thing.
What are you going to DO with that?
You’re MOVING. You’re trying to get RID of things! Not acquire!

Okay…My heart knew that last one was ridiculous. A coaster would easily slip into something larger that was going – it was practically like picking up nothing at all.

My mind said no. My heart reached out, guiltily. Into my sewing bag the pretty blue coaster went after it was offered to me yet again. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but not only did my heart want it, but Nancy seemed to want me to have it.

IMG_5004So here it is, at my house, or rather the home of my sister and her husband, where I sit in the corner of the room, with my cup of coffee, every morning. Where I need a coaster. Every day.

“See???” My heart exclaims brightly to my mind. “We DID need that! Isn’t it marvelous? Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it the perfect bit of shine, polish and bright that we need every day? Isn’t it amazing that even though YOU didn’t think we needed it, I wanted it, and it turns out we DID need it? I, for one, am SO GRATEFUL we took the coaster.”

What other things has my heart reached out for and my mind pooh-poohed? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? Constellations of bright things that could shine more light and love into my world? I may never know. But maybe every time I hear my heart whisper, “I want that.” I will get better about muting my mind’s objections. Maybe that is the way to live.

And I slip this mantra to my mind, like the bright coaster, because my heart wishes to give it something small, something shiny, something the mind maybe thinks it doesn’t need, but it makes the heart happy, “I have everything I need” my heart whispers. And the mind reaches out and palms the shiny mantra turning it over and over.