Monday, October 31, 2005

photos by D. Bowden
My daughter's cat, Doggie
Loves to sleep, to eat tuna from a can, to be petted,
and to bask in sunbeams.

She is a very lazy, FAT cat.
She is also very sweet.

Friday, October 28, 2005

(A Work in Progress)
By D. Bowden
Photo by: D. Bowden

As she walked up the wooden steps of the renovated Victorian mansion, she straightened the belt of her light blue jacket, smoothed her mousy-brown hair then hesitantly turned the brass doorknob. A wealthy family had once owned the house for several generations, but the last surviving heir hadn’t wanted the old place and sold the property to developers who transformed the three-story dwelling into an office building. It was now home to an insurance agent, a couple of attorneys-at-law, an accountant on the upper floors, and an M.D. and a psychiatrist on the first.

The door creaked as she pushed it open. Poking her head in first before going inside, she first noticed the large window with sliding glass panels on her right. She approached the counter where a silver name-plate displayed the name, Lukas Nussbaum, Ph.D.. “What am I doing here?” she muttered to herself. She wanted to turn around and run out the door. Carl would be furious with her. As far as he was concerned, people shouldn’t go around airing their problems to family and friends, much less total strangers. Just as she turned to make her escape, a spectacled woman behind the counter slid back the glass window and demanded: “Name?”
“Uh. . . Marney . . . I mean, Marilyn Ackerman. I have an eleven-thirty appointment with Dr. Nussbaum.” She glanced nervously over her shoulder as if someone might have overheard.
“Please have a seat. Doctor will see you shortly.” The gray-haired receptionist slid the window closed with a bang.

The waiting room was dreary. Sunshine forced itself between the slats of the wood Venetian blinds and left lines of light across the maroon leather chairs which were lined up in rows along the walls. On a mahogany coffee table in the center of the room lay old issues of Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, TIME and Field & Stream. Choosing a Good Housekeeping magazine with a picture of Julia Roberts on the front, Marney settled into a chair in the far corner even though no one else was in the room. Pshhhhhh . . . went the chair as she sank into it. She no sooner had opened the magazine when an over-cheery petite woman in blue holding a manill folder opened the door and shouted “Marilyn Ackermann?” Laying the magazine on the chair next to hers, Marney picked up her purse and walked toward the woman who was smiling sympathetically.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Nature's paintbrush needs no words . . .
Arches NP Utah

Photo by D. Bowden
Walking Tree
Tree had enough of the hot afternoon sun and pulled his roots out of the sandy rock and crawled right on outta there! Bryce Canyon, Utah.
Photograph by:
D. Bowden 1998
Mary and Jeff collecting agates in Michigan's Upper Peninsula - 1990
by D Bowden - Colored pencil on paper

Daylight Savings
By Dorothy Parker

My answers are inadequate
To those demanding day and date
And ever set a tiny shock
Through strangers asking what's o'clock;
Whose days are spent in whittling rhyme-
What's time to her, or she to Time?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.
~Groucho Marx~

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lobster Dinner in Maine
by D. Bowden Oct 2005
Ink Drawing by: D Bowden 1983

While vacationing in Maine many years ago in early summer when our children were small, one of the things my husband wanted was a lobster dinner fresh from the coastal waters. We knew from past travels that the small, privately-owned crabshacks serve the best seafood, even better than the fancy restaurants. The place where we chose to stop was right on the shores of the Atlantic. It was a place with peeling yellow paint with white trim on the windows. Inside we found large tanks that contained live lobsters with plastic clamps on their claws. The kids were fascinated, for this is the first time they had seen live lobsters. The man behind the counter took a few out and let them crawl around the slippery, metal countertop. This proved to delight the children even further, and they laughed and clapped their hands with glee. The man then asked my husband, "Which one?" My husband hesitated, for he was not used to choosing his food while it was still walking around. Randomly, he pointed at one of them, since he didn't know what constituted a "better" lobster. The man dropped all but one back into the holding tanks and then took the one my husband condemned to death and much to our children's dismay, plopped the wriggling creature into a waiting pot of boiling water. What sounded like squeals came from the bubbling water, (which is really the sound of air escaping the shell, but try explaining that to three children under age six) and sounded to the kids as if Mr. Lobster were in sheer agony. That's when we realized we had made a terrible mistake by allowing the kids to witness this execution no matter if it was a mere crustacean. To a child, life is life, killing is killing, and killing is BAD. My husband sat there alone eating his twelve dollar lobster while I consoled three sobbing children.
No title: Jeff Bowden, pastel on paper

Hungry black cat
Eyes a tasty treat
Of glass-bowl-raised
Vulnerable goldfish

Friday, October 21, 2005

"I prefer to be true to myself,
even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others,
rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence."
~ Frederick Douglass ~

Fairy Time
D. Bowden

Evening time in the summer, when leafy things silhouette their purple-black against a velveteen starry sky, the fairies come out to play. One by one, their lanterns appear in the darkness. Little yellow lights flicker here and there in the garden as the tiny fairies dance and flit about playing their warm-weather games that no human may take part in. If you listen close, you might hear one laughing, or you may hear a group of fairies singing magical song in celebration of summertime.

At Grandma's Place
D. Bowden 2005
Photo by B. Pressley

My grandma’s place on Chicago's East Side was my favorite place to be as a child. It was a place where I felt special. Fat pink and vanilla colored Christmas tree lights at Christmastime. Space heater in the livingroom. Rough dark green upholstered sofa bed. Leaf-patterned carpet over brown linoleum floors. Big back porch where we watched thunderstorms while eating ice cream slices from Walgreen’s pint containers. Bright yellow kitchen with a chrome-trimmed kitchen table with its gray formica top. The refrigerator was called the “ice box” and there was a convection oven that I never saw my grandma use with it’s big red dial sticking out like a clown’s nose. It was a warm and friendly place, a place I could relax and be free to do what I liked to do, which was to draw and make things with construction paper and sticky paste from a jar. I lay at night on the Davenport and watched the light from passing cars filter through the Venetian blinds and dance across the ceiling until I fell sound asleep. I miss my Grandma so much.

Rug Shopping
D. Bowden
July 25, 2005

The old salesman hovered around the middle-aged couple expectantly. “I think this is a fine rug here. Fine quality,” he offered.
“I don’t really like that one,”the middle-aged man snapped. “I don’t even want a rug.”
“But we need one, dear,” said the wife without looking at him. “You don’t want the wood floor
you just put in to be ruined by the wheels of the office chair. I like this one, it’s sort of artsy.”
“It’s dull. I don’t like it,” he countered.
“So, what kind of wood floor did you install in your home? Laminated? Hardwood?” inquired the salesman.
“Brazilian maple” barked the middle-aged man. He wished the salesman would just leave them
to look in peace.
“Oh, that’s a soft wood, “ said the salesman shaking his head.
“No, it’s hard, “ argued the middle-aged man.

The woman was ignoring them both as she browsed through the racks of area rugs.

“Now oak, cherry . . . those are hard woods. Maple is a soft wood, “ insisted the salesman, confident in his knowledge of flooring.
“I have maple in my diningroom and after eighteen years it looks like new,” said the middle-aged man.
“No it doesn’t,” said the woman without looking at either man.
“Well, Brazilian maple is probably harder than regular maple, I suppose, “ offered the salesman as if trying to build a rapport with the younger man.
“It’s not Brazilian maple in the dining room, just regular maple, “ he snapped.
“I like this one. Do you like this one? It’s a good deal too,” she said.
“Not really. It’s too, well . . . fuzzy. The design isn’t clear,” he criticized.

“You never like anything I pick out, “ complained the woman.
“Well, since I make the money, I want to make sure my money is spent on something that I like,” snarled the middle-aged man.
The salesman backed away and said, “I’ll be over here if you need me.”

“Thank you, “ said the woman to the salesman. She glared at the middle-aged man.
“Do you always have to do that?” she said in a stern whisper.
“I don’t even want a rug,” reiterated the middle-aged man.

They both left the store, he first and her following behind.
The bell clanged on the door as it
closed behind them.

Canton, North Carolina in the 50s

My Grandparents' Farm
D. Bowden

My grandparents' (father's parents) farm in North Carolina was located in the same town as the Champion Paper Mills. When we visited when I was a child I thought the pungent odor of boiled wood pulp coming from the mills was the smell of the huge white blossoms of my grandmother's snowball bushes that grew in the front yard. I'd shove my face into the lacy balls and breathe deeply, taking in the scent. But the flowers smelled of paper mill pollution and it was impossible to differentiate one scent from another -- except for the barnyard which had its own distinct smell. My grandparents had lots of farm animals. They had milk cows, pigs, chickens and goats. My grandfather would find joy in pretending that he was going to throw me into the raunchy pig pen just to hear me scream my head off. All of Haywood County probably heard me yelling!

The cow barn was pretty smelly, too. Cow piles were everywhere and even right there where my grandmother did the milking! She would sit on a stool right there under the cow's belly and yank on those nasty udders, shooting hot milk into a semi-clean silver bucket. Then afterwards she would pour the milk through a strainer that caught most of the hair and she would serve the milk directly from udder to table. My mother found this to be quite disgusting, especially when the occasional fly had to be picked out before drinking.

My grandmother also churned her own butter. They grew their own vegetables and slaughtered a hog or chicken now and then. They had an outhouse at the back of their property and no indoor plumbing. My mom also hated that, though I don't remember the outhouse myself.

One day I wandered into the big old barn with its peeling red paint and found my grandmother milking a big rust and white-colored cow. As I watched, the cow turned its big head towards me and bellowed "MOOOOOOOOO!" at me and I turned and ran like the wind back to the house, yelling like a banshee the whole way!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Niagara Falls
in the Wintertime

By D Bowden
Photo D. Bowden

Niagara Falls is a magnificent sight , especially in mid-winter when everything is beautifully covered in a crystal coating of thick ice. The advantage of visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is that there are no huge crowds to deal wtih and hotel rates are very reasonable. Getting around is not a problem since the streets and sidewalks are kept clear with a natural, environmental-friendly de-icer. The ice formations created around the rocks and base of the falls by the perpetual falling of water is a spectacular sight if one can endure the challenge of the harshness of the Niagara winter cold.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Night Demons
by D. Bowden 2004
Photo by D. Bowden

In the middle of the night
Voices 'rouse me
From my peaceful slumber.
I resist.
But can't ignore them.
They scream loudly,
Keeping at me
Til I respond.
Please show yourself
If so rude to wake me,
Or let me linger
In sweet repose!
No amount of pleading
Will make them leave me
With dreams surrendered
Til morning comes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Inscriptions for the Ceiling of a Bedroom
by Dorothy Parker

Daily dawns another day
I must up, to make my way
Though I dress and drink and eat
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and Laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend -
Bed awaits me in the end.
Though I go in pride and strength,
I'll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed, I'm bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days, but lead to bed.
Up and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again.
Summer, winter, spring and fall
I'm a fool to rise at all!

Friday, October 14, 2005

"I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things!"
From: "The Little Hours" Dorothy Parker

From Dorothy Parker's "The Waltz"

I most certainly will not dance with you. I'll see you in hell first.

Why, thank you, I'd like to awfully, but I'm having labor pains.

Oh, yes, do let's dance together -- it's so nice to meet a man who isn't a scaredy-cat about catching my beri-beri.


There was nothing for me to do, but say I'd adore to.

Well, we might as well get it over with.

All right, Cannonball, let's run out on the field. You won the toss; you can lead.

Mechanical Beast
D. Bowden 2005

Looming, mechanical thunder,
Blaring horns screaming in the dark,
Disturbing those who slumber
Along its clickity-clack path.

From some far off destination
The metal dragon slithers in
With its long rattling tail
Swaying disjointedly behind.

The beast rolls closer towards the town,
Wailing, billowing steam,
As if in a jealous rage –
All are asleep, and it cannot!

Churning off into the darkness,
Its distant bleating can be heard
As it grumbles and complains,
Toward its own somnolent place.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

50 Nuns and a Fishing Net
A dream I had one night . . . .(I have bizarre dreams)
D. Bowden
Photoshop D Bowden

I was sleeping and was awakened by a wooden screen door slamming and I found that we had new neighbors next door. They had a huge trailer and only allowed a few feet of space between our trailer and theirs. Then our place became my Mom and Dad's trailer and we were only visitors. Then suddenly we were on a spacious piece of land that backed up to a seashore with a spectacular view. Lots of people were on the beach and in the water. Kids were splashing each other and squealing happily. Also in the water were about 50 nuns in their "penguin" outfits. They all had hold of a huge fishing net. They were pulling the net to land and there were thousands of white fish in the net. Grayness was coming in from the horizon and people started to pack up to leave and the nuns struggled to finish their fishing job. I was then scrambling around to find my camera to take photos of it all.
Nighttime Snack
D. Bowden

In the misty light
Of a moonlit night
A spotted owl takes flight.
On a branch it lights,
Watches with eyes bright
A mouse he invites
To a midnight meal.

Pink cherry blossoms
fall like feathers upon me
as I rest beneath

A black, melting face
Wanders through uncaring hordes
who fear his "disease"

D. Bowden

Image above originally by artist Arthur Weindorf (1885-1979)

See the monkey dance
Does tricks and tips his hat
For the simple crowd

D. Bowden
You Make Your Own Luck
D. Bowden

When I was a little girl, I asked my father if he believed in good luck or bad luck. The answer he gave me at the time was confusing then, but later was a life changing memory. I have come to understand completely what my father meant when he said to me, “There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck, – you make your own luck.” As time went by and I grew older, I began to experience the hardships and struggles of a more complex life. I tried to find ways to cope with problems. However, when things did not go my way I resorted to whining, complaining and crying. Then when that didn’t work I would try praying to God, and that was about as useful as waiting for a genie to take my troubles away. It took awhile to realize that whining, complaining, crying, wishing and praying was not going to help me. Several years ago, I reached a point in my life when I was at wit’s end. Considering all of the things I had tried in the past to cope with the difficulties of living, which did not do any good, I was at a loss of what else to do. All I could do is sit there and brood about all the “unlucky” things that have happened to me. I was seriously afflicted with the “poor me” syndrome. Suddenly it was as if out of the blue the word I was focusing on– “unlucky”– stirred up memories from my childhood and the long ignored advice of my father. “You make your own luck.” I was at once enlightened! I realized after all the years that had gone by that I had the power all along to make things better. Instead of sitting around whining, complaining, crying and praying, I decided to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make my own luck! I had to do something positive instead of sitting around waiting for others to “rescue” me. I have passed on my father’s words of wisdom to my own children. When they complain when things are not going their way and how unlucky they are, I tell them, “There is no such thing as good luck or bad luck, -- you make your own luck.”

My ear is a psychologist
for all the people in my life.
They don’t want analysis,
but sweet relief from stress.
I listen, but offer no advice.
Their problems pour into me
through my aural canal
and stick in my empathy

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Parrot Dream
July 2005

I dreamed that parrots were trying to get into our house – lots of them. Our house didn't look like it does it reality. It was ultra modern with huge glass windows. The parrots would land on the sills and some would push their way into the house and I was running around shoving them back outside. I was worried they would eat my bearded dragon, Miller. They were beautiful parrots. Bright green with red, yellow and blue on their heads. Thei feathers were so soft. A technicolor dream, but I was so frustrated that I couldn’t keep them out and they kept getting in.

Silly Putty

D. Bowden
I remember when Auntie Barbara gave me some Silly Putty when I was about three years old. I remember the red plastic "egg" it came in. When I would press it on funny pages of the newspaper, the image would adhere to the pinkish putty and I could make it stretch every which way to make "Nancy" or "Mickey" or "Charlie Brown" distort into all sorts of contortions. I was having so much fun with it, but my father was afraid I would get the gummy substance in the upholstery or on the floor or somewhere else. He took it from me and started tossing it in the air and laughing as I begged for him to give it back to me. On the last toss into the air, and "catch" he opened his hands to show me that the putty "disappeared"! "Make it come back, Daddy! Please!" He just smiled at me with surprised eyes and said "It's gone! It disappeared!" I don't know what he ever did with it, but I never got it back.

I never saw a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one

author unknown
My Bearded Dragon: Miller
D. Bowden 2005
Photo by D. Bowden
Miller, my pet Bearded Dragon is a lady lizard with a boy lizard's name. The young guy who previously owned her named her Miller because he believed that she was a he. He no longer wanted her and gave her to my son who brought her home as a gift to me. I took Miller to the reptile vet to make sure "he" was in good health and to find out for certain if Miller was indeed a "he" and the reptile vet pronounced Miller a "he" and we moved on. Then one day Miller started pacing the length of the tank and frantically digging at the plexiglass walls of her confines as if trying to escape. We were deeply concerned that Miller might be sick. I came home from work one day to find a white, jelly bean-shaped stone in the bottom of her tank. I picked it up with a paper towel and looked closely at it and then gave it a squeeze. Crack! It broke and yellow yolk oozed out. It was an egg! She laid 15 more a few hours later and it was very obvious that Miller was really a Millie. However, after calling her Miller for months, we kept the name Miller since that is what we were all used to.
Miller always appears to have something on her mind and looks as if she is about to say something. Her favorite things to do are to watch television and to look out the patio doors of our diningroom. Miller knows what is coming when my husband gets home from work. She scurries to the end of the tank facing the television set and waits. She is a t.v. addict!
Miller never makes a noise. Beardies are sadly mute. She can't even cry, squeak, growl, meow, or even hiss like some lizards to. And she never bites, at least not intentionally. I've gotten caught by one of her two front fangs a couple of times while feeding her a green bean, but she meant no harm.
Beardies are supposed to be crazy about live crickets, but Miller is TERRIFIED of them. I once put her in a feeding tank and dumped the critters in with her expecting her to enjoy her feast and she freaked out! She wanted OUT! Now she eats only canned or freeze-dried crickets and processed lizard food pellets that turn her poop bright green..
Another thing that makes Miller nervous is the sound of a bird. In the wild, Beardies are bird food. Though she has never lived in the wild, instinct tells her that birds are not her friends. So, in the springtime, when the patio doors are open and the birds are singing in the trees, Miller keeps flat to the floor of her tank and pretends she is invisible. She thinks no one can see her that way!
I never thought I could love a reptile, but I love Miller as much as I could love a dog or a cat. She knows me and loves to sit on my shoulder or my lap and tilts her head and looks up at me with one eye as if to say "I know are the one who cares for me!" She's my little friend.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I'm a Halloween Scrooge!

D. Bowden Oct 2005

It’s almost that time of year again for the little candy beggars to come knocking at the door. How I cringe when I hear their squeaky little voices scream “CHICK ER CHEET” as they hold up their bags greedily as Mom or Dad watch from the sidewalk hoping their little ones get chocolate or some other really good kind of candy that they can sneak out of their child’s bag later when they are fast asleep.
I admit I am a Halloween “scrooge.” This is one of the most disturbing holidays ever invented. My opinion is not based on any religious beliefs, since I have none of those. My opinions are based on how I hate having my dinner disrupted over and over again by the constant "ding-dong" of the doorbell and then demand to hand over my candy OR ELSE! When little ones, and nowadays big ones, knock at the door and demand a trick or a treat, do they realize what they are really asking? Trick...or a treat? When they do get little “tricks” instead of treats, someone gets arrested! When you stop to think about it, they are giving people a choice with that statement! Trick? Or Treat? Hmmmm, let me think about that . . .
The common belief is t
hat “trick or treat” means “gimme candy mister or you are going to be sorry!” It’s an evil threat that is sometimes carried out by the egging of property, soaping of windows, toilet-papering of trees and shrubs, paint-balling of cars, or dog-pooping the front stairs if an undeserved treat is not forked over on demand. Kids nowadays even have the nerve to be picky and you could even find yourself a victim of some sort of minor and irritating vandalism for not producing the RIGHT KIND of treat and some have the nerve to openly blast anyone who would give them a piece of taffy instead of a full-sized Hershey Bar.
We refuse to participate in this hoodlum-encouraging activity of candy extortion. We leave the lights off and hide, or we go out for the evening and the greedy ones run past us in a furious sweat to make their piggy demands at the next house.