Friday, February 27, 2009

The Work

Through the looking glass... Nepal.
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

Wow it's been a long week, and it's only Thursday! Well technically Friday since it's now 1217am. I am right now in a hotel east of Dallas with my best friend Daline, because tomorrow we are going to a workshop for Byron Katie, Founder of The Work - at Texas A&M University-Commerce, Department of Counseling's Murphy Day - here's the link. She also has a new book out, Who Would You Be Without Your Story. Here's an excerpt from the Murphy Day website:

Byron Katie, internationally known author and founder of The Work, has one job: to teach people how to end their own suffering. As she guides people through the powerful process of inquiry called The Work, they find that their stressful beliefs—about life, other people, or themselves— radically shift and their lives are changed forever. Katie (as everyone calls her) not only shows us that our problems originate in our thinking: she gives us the tools to open our minds and set ourselves free. You will leave her workshop with these very practical tools and the process for working with clients to effectively assist them in modifying their belief systems.

Daline participated in her 9-day "School for the Work" in LA which she said was just life-transforming and amazing. So it's awesome to be able to share this day tomorrow with her here! There are several videos of Byron Katie in action on her website. I haven't read her book but watched some of the videos and it's quite profound and seems very useful in terms of accepting the way things are - whether cancer, death of a loved one, tragedy, loss, relationship issues, money woes and other things in life.

So... my boyfriend Doug is now back in Houston! He came back unexpectedly a week earlier than planaed due to some weather in the Gulf. I picked him up from the airport and it was so awesome to see him. Then we sat in traffic for hours trying to get him home... which we finally did and then Daline and I started the drive to where we are now... So I only got to see him for a couple hours! However he's back home now for about a month probably so I'll get to see him soon! I'll be back tomorrow night.

I have now officially finished decent drafts of 5 chapters of my book.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jesus in a Thong? (forgive my irreverence)

A picture of me and my kids and my friend Ruthanne at Astroworld on my birthday several years ago, when my kids were a couple years older than their ages in the story below!

Jesus in a Thong? (forgive my irreverence)
by Wendee Holtcamp

"I think you need a belt, Savannah," I tell my seven-year old daughter. I can see her melon-colored panties peaking out an inch above the top of her jeans.

"I just like to show my underwear," she retorts.

We're sitting around the dinner table, about to have a slightly off-color conversation. Recalling an article I'd read about peek-a-boo thongs, I tell my husband, "The trend with teenagers now is to wear a thong so it can be seen outside the back of your jeans."

"Gross!" he contorts his face hideously. "Don't those things, like, go up your bottom?"

"What is a thong?" Savannah interrupts.

"Thongs are underwear that just have a string that, well, goes up your bottom," I explain.

"Eww," my five-year-old says. "They go up your butt?!"

"They don't exactly go up your butt," I say, trying not to burst out laughing. "They just go in your butt crack." As soon as I say it, I know I probably shouldn't have. I'm not one to pretend such things don't exist, but I'm really wondering how this conversation will affect our urgent attempts to convince Sam to stop saying the word butt all the time.

"Let's stay on the side of Jesus now," my husband pleads.

I can't help cracking up. "I don't think Jesus minds thongs," I say.

"Jesus would not wear a thong!" he demands.

"I have a thong," I say, trying to change my mental image of Jesus in a thong.

Savannah's eyes perk up. "I want to see it!"

"I don't wear it very often, it's not very comfortable." I'm mentally recalling the hilarious line from Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues where the woman with the "angry" vagina is cursing thongs.

"Can I see it? Pleeeeease!" she begs.

"Ok, ok, I'll show you later. It's no big deal."

"I think it's time to steer this conversation back on track," my husband says.

Later that night, as I'm tucking Sam into bed, I'm certain that our strange conversation has been forgotten. We're saying our nightly prayer, and then he leans over and whispers in my ear, "It's so funny that they go up your b-u-t-t-c-r-a-c-k," Sam giggles.

I sigh. At least he didn't say the word. He spelled it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shake my tambourine at the world

Me atop Tabletop Mountain, Queensland, Australia
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp (via Rin Burton)

Shake my tambourine at the world

Here good people of the world
would you like a sip
of my cup of confusion
or a taste
of pink marshmallow fields
where elephants fear to tread
Just leave it alone
Do you want me to call an ambulance
or an army
of angels
to rescue our damned souls

We receive brown parcel packages
filled with stark white sheets
for our lives
Who will splatter on my innocence
before I’ve a chance
to build some muscle
Whose stark whiteness
will I soil
in my ignorance?
Where are my teachers of justice?

Right under my feet
and over my head
the stars, the ageless rocks, the trees
the ancient ones
who have seen a multitude of generations
they cry out in song and mourning
for all the lost
that gather gold
and fools around them

With simplicity and light
I build my tambourine
Wake up and hear the beat
With the melody of hope
the seeds of truth
the peace of God
the power of love
the knowledge of grace
the unity of color
the winds of change
I shake my tambourine at the world.

- Copyright (c) 2001 Wendee Holtcamp

Saturday, February 21, 2009

my kids crack me up

Sam exploring on the rocks in Yosemite National Park
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

"How fiercely, devoutly wild is Nature in the midst of her beauty-loving tenderness!-painting lilies, watering them, caressing them with gentle hand, going from flower to flower like a gardener while building rock mountains and cloud mountains full of lightning and rain."

- John Muir, The Yosemite.

I stumbled across this list I made Sam write so he'd remember his trip to California in Summer 07 - here's a link to the Jun blog archive from then with some other pics and writing about the trip. It cracked me up - so minimalist! When I took them to Australia I made them both keep a daily journal (hey they were missing some school for the trip), so this was an EASY one to just make a list. It just brought back memories and made me laugh so here it is. Note though he sounds like he was 4 or 5 in his minimalistic answers, he was 10 when he wrote this! And a very smart 10! I think next time I'm going to make him write a bit more about each little adventure...

What i did/saw/got/ate in CA, by Sam

* I saw a bear
* I saw a clear river
* I saw a trout and carp
* I got a poster
* I got 2 fake bears (WH Commentary: I have no idea what he means...stuffed animal??)
* I saw Kira (WH: his cousin)
* I saw snow
* I made a snowman
* I had a snowball fight
* I got to drink some spring water
* I got to swim in a glacial lake
* I got to swim in a very cold river (WH: The Merced at Yosemite!)
* I got my name painted (WH: by the guys in San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf)
* I saw the bushman (WH: ROFLOL - this is the guy dressed as a bush who jumps out and scares people in Fisherman's Wharf in SF)
* I got an Alcatraz hoodie
* I saw sea lions
* I saw a guy doing a crazy trick
* I saw a baby sea lion
* I got to fly on a plane
* I ate "gooseberries"
* I ate fresh honey from a hive
* I got a gong (WH: When I first read this I thought it said bong! LOL!)
* I saw a wild plum tree
* I ate unripe wild plums
* I ate a fresh organic strawberry
* I got to tour the garden (WH: At Green Gulch Organic Farm)
* I got to tour the Zen Center (WH: Green Gulch Zen Center Monastery)

That's it! Hopefully I'll blog some more later. I revised my chapter on truth, yet AGAIN, but I'm liking it finally, and I'm working on another chapter about my frustrations with the church after my divorce. Why were all my non-Christian friends there for me, while my Christian friends were not, and often turned their back on me? It's all there... later chapters will talk about redemption and forgiveness.

Last night when I was tucking Savannah in for bed, we were cracking up! Somehow we started talking about spontaneous combustion. I think I said something like, you might just spontaneously combust. And she was like, that does NOT happen, really. And I was like, yea it does! You just disapear, fwoop! And all that's left behind is a little pile of ashes. She was like, no it does NOT. I said, yea I think if you eat a lot of beans and have a lot of gas you're at a greater risk. She was like, whatever. I said Go look it up on Wikipedia!! If it's on Wikipedia it has to be true! She said, Yea right, I made an entry about a giant rat man on Wikipedia. I was like, you did?! Are you serious?! She said yep, I wrote a whole long story, but then I hit cancel on accident! (she didn't have it saved elsewhere - big no-no!). So anyway the giant rat man will go undocumented, for the time being.

Here are a few more of the pics from that trip!

Sam at the Green Gulch Organic Garden, where my best friend Daline lived and worked for over a year. This is outside San Francisco. I think this may be the gooseberry bush but I'm not sure...
The guy painting Sam's name in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.
Sam and Savannah jumping in the frigid glacial Merced River in Yosemite National Park. They went swimming with my brother and Kira while me and Zofia stayed on the shore. I may be wacky, but I am not crazy!
Sam about to go into Dog Lake, a glacial lake and also very cold!

Sam making a snowball.

And about to throw it! This was the first time my kids had EVER seen snow! Well they did see snow when we spent 3 weeks in Alaska but Sam was 9 months old...

God's art alive

Your beauty
surpasses brilliance
of the nighttime sky
shining brighter
than all the stars
as the moon
full of magic sprinkle dust

Samuel, my son
God’s art alive
three-dimensional complexity
mindful of babbles and bubbles
thoughts comprehensible
only to God
and yourself

Copyright (c) 2000 Wendee Holtcamp

Friday, February 20, 2009

joys of micro-blogging

Tasmanian devil, Tasmania, Australia
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

It's funny, I was blogging all the time and now I'm not. What gives? I am chalking it up to two things. I've spent a lot of time "micro-blogging" on Facebook. And I have been writing a lot on my book. Between the two., they're taking up a lot of my time and creative energy! I like to say I'm addicted to Facebook but honestly I'm fascinated by the creative outlet. I put various quotes on my Wall that I come across there in my research on truth for my book, I post links to pages I find interesting, and post what I'm thinking or doing during the day. I have snippets of conversations with people who I probably would never keep in touch with otherwise. It's truly an amazing technology for masses of people who live far and wide, but have common interests and connections. When I need an answer to a question I can post it in my Status, and within minutes i often have an answer! Wow. I am loving it.

I've also started using Twitter ( but I'm having a hard time quite loving it as much. I use it to update my status on facebook - and as you may have seen it also now puts my tweets to this blog, as well as my myspace page, but I don't like the Twitter interface. There are several Twitter programs people use. Anyone have any suggestions for a blackberry? There's a program called Twitterberry that I may download but I'm a bit afraid to download it and mess up my Blackberry since I don't know how to remove software...

I am writing, and revising, my chapter on truth - how we come to believe what we do. I've come across some fantastic quotes I thought I'd share here.

There are truths, that are beyond us, transcendent truths, about beauty, truth, honor, etc. There are truths that man knows exist, but they cannot be seen - they are immaterial, but no less real, to us. It is only through the language of myth that we can speak of these truths. - J. R. R. Tolkien

Only through myth, through story telling can we aspire to the life we were made for with God. To write and/or read myth was to meditate on the most important truths of life. – JRR Tolkien

"No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power." -- CS Lewis, The Abolition of Man

"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger." -- CS Lewis The Last Battle (this has got to be the most insightful quote ever - so apropos to intelligent design!)

"To admire Satan [in Paradise Lost] is to give one's vote not only for a world of misery, but also for a world of lies and propaganda, of wishful thinking, of incessant autobiography." --CS Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost

"Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it." - Pascal.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wendee's rules for staying young

Footprints in the sand, Great Sand Dunes National Monument, CO
Copyright (c) 2008 Wendee Holtcamp

The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.
– Anne Morriss, Starbucks customer from NYC, “organization builder, restless American Citizen, optimist”

Someone was saying how I look young for my age, and I was thinking what my rules for staying young and healthy would be. And so I posted this on her facebook profile page and then I thought, hey that is my blog post for the day! Here we go:

* Eat lots of veggies and fruit and whole grains and protein and a balanced diet.
* Exercise lots - yoga, cardio, weights - mix it up.
* Take vitamins. Do everything in one's power to avoid medication of all type (it's all an evil ploy by thepharmaceutical industry to make $$) - try natural alternatives first...
* Do cleanses.
* Take 1tsp psyllium a day for good digestion.
* Drink lots of water.
* Don't drink diet soda or use any sugar free sweeteners - other than Stevia which is truly all natural.
* No smoking and not much drinking. Give and get lots of hugs and have lots of good friends.
* Exercise your brain!
* Forgive, eliminate bitterness, work hard, and love love love!!!

OK that was fun. I should write a book - ha ha!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Owl Mountain, New Mexico
Copyright (c) 2005 Wendee Holtcamp

Staying at the tiny solar-run cabin at the Owl Mountain Retreat back in 2005 was one of the happiest times in my life. I was in solitude, writing my book proposal which I later snagged my agent with (Carol Mann Literary Agency) who then sold my book idea to Beacon Press. I stayed there for 2 weeks, just me and my thoughts, me and my computer, surrounded by the gorgeous red rock landscape, near the town of Abiquiu where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted. It was a magical time in a magical landscape. I loved the solitude and I long for it now. I long to be surrounded by nothing but nature. I saw coyotes pass by in the front of the cabin, birds sitting perched in the windowsill, and the thousand colors of the sunrise and sunset change and dance over the dusty land. I need to get back. I blogged about it through November 2005 (entries like blustery day, cotton candy sky, it is snowing!!, purple mountain majesties, laughter -one of the best and funniest days of my life - where I took a bunch of self-portraits and was just cracking myself up on Thanksgiving, chocolate foibles, pee-cans and yesterdays, my first camp adventure, and I have found heaven and it's in NM), and early December.

I've been thinking seriously of finding a cabin somewhere and just writing like mad on my book. I could go back to Owl Mountain, but I'm looking for something maybe a bit less money... like FREE! :) I may go to my friend's in Montana, who has a downstairs "apartment" but wonder about the cold. I'm not a huge fan of cold... BUT that said, it was wintertime in New Mexico when I was there, and as long as the trusty gas faux wood stove was cranked, I was toasty warm. I played music CDs and wrote on my laptop. I took a walk every day, and perched on top of the ledge, observing the world. It was truly a magical time. I think I said that already.

I wrote an essay on my time there for E/The Environmental Magazine that is one of my favorite pieces, Back to Nature: What Is It About Simplicity and Solitude that Inspires Writers?. Writing essays is always gratifying because they're personal, and they tell a part of your life story. I started the piece with a great quote from Thoreau because I felt all Thoreau-like in my isolated little cabin (though this cabin was a bit bigger than Thoreau's!) I know that because the college where I used to teach biology at (formerly Kingwood College, now Lonestar College-Kingwood) had a reproduction of his cabin that students built, and it was TINY!

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry David Thoreau, On Walden Pond

Trust me, I march to a different drummer! I always have. It's funny, I recently got back in touch with a friend from high school who I hadn't heard of in over 20 years via Facebook (to which I need a 12-step program...) and I happened to have the profile pic of me with the chopsticks in my mouth where I look like a walrus. And she was like, "You haven't changed!" :) Well, yes parts of me have changed dramatically but I have always been a bit goofy and silly. In fact one of my, or rather my only New Year's resolution is to sort of reclaim that part of myself that is joyful, the joie de vivre that I have had since I was young but that life can just suck right out of you sometimes.

I'm a passionate person. I feel everything very deeply, whether it's sorrow, or joy, excitement and anticipation, or compassion for others. I also - generally - don't dwell in one emotion for too long. So if I'm bawling and crying one day and very deeply sad, the next day I am almost always feeling better and back on my feet. One of my spiritual mentors, the writer Henri Nouwen, once said something to the effect that we can circle our abyss, but we need to make sure not to get stuck in it. To me that means that we can go back into those deep painful childhood wounds (or the adult wounds) and think about it and feel it and grieve it and mourn it, but we have to be careful not to get stuck there. And as I've mentioned on this blog many times before. I always vowed to never let life take away my joie de vivre. It's not always easy though.

So today my friends Amy, Melody and her kids will join me and my kids to watch Slumdog Millionaire with some chili and heart-shaped pizza! Then we're going to a Joy Motion class at the opening house of my friend Maggie Grueskin's eco-friendly EKAM Yoga studio in Atascocita!! The Tribune did a great article about it and her.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Liz Gilbert on Creative Genius

Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana
Copyright(c)2007 Wendee Holtcamp

Liz is one of my all-time favorite authors. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books Eat Pray Love: One women's search for everything across Italy, India, and Indonesia, which is hilarious, moving, heartfelt, and just truly inspitring. She's a fellow Cancerian, a fellow writer, someone intrigued by science, and just really cool! She gave a 18-minute talk on creative genius for TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) which has an annual conference bringing together the best and brightest in these three fields. The website has over 200 talks archived from people ranging from Jane Goodall to Al Gore to Amy Tan, and more. Gilbert's talk is called "A different way to think about creative genius" - Enjoy!! It's hilarious, and inspiring. Now if God would just send me a Dobby-house-elf-like creative "genius" who lives in the walls of my house and inspires my creativity for this book, I would be absolutely thrilled! Dobby, where art thou?!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Loving Well

My best friend Daline and Tina, our naturalist guide at a hot spring in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, just off of the Manu River.
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

I just got back from my church's retreat, which used Beth Moore's Loving Well 4-session program. Beth Moore is one of the most inspiring, joyful, genuine, and spirit-filled women I've ever seen. She is from Houston, and has Tuesday evening bible studies for several weeks during the year at Houston's First Baptist Church. I haven't been able to attend since my divorce but used to go regularly. Thousands of people go! It's pretty amazing. She actually videotapes some of these bible studies, which end up as video bible study series that other people can then watch (often churches offer the bible studies using the videos) and she's written several books.

I have seen Beth live for two different bible studies and I have also done two or three of her bible studies through churches. I have to tell you, she is just so funny, and very real. She has been through so much in her life, and is so non-judgmental. Yet she really teaches you so much about the Bible. She loves to go back and look at the original language and what it means and by sharing that knowledge it really has deepened my own faith. I would love to be like her, so full of joy and goodness.

At this weekend's Loving Well conference - it was a video series - we learned that we can't love well until we feel well loved. We have to truly be able to feel God's love before we can give. She said that too many people in the church give and serve until they're worked to the bone but they're not loving well because they don't feel LOVED in their soul. There's a difference between believing IN God, and BELIEVING God. She asked the difficult question, Are you loving better now than you were 5 years ago? Because if you're growing in Christ, you're growing in love.

She also talked about four categories of people we are called to love - and used Bible passages to show this. Joy, Testy, Foe and Far. She put 4 chairs on her stage and placed those labels on each chair and had us imagine who those people are in our lives. Joy are people who are joys to love. Testy are the people who just drive you crazy. Foe are people who are an enemy to your soul, people who you even hate (or maybe in denial about hating, because it's not "nice" or not "Christian" to hate), and then Far who are the people around the world, the needy and the people different from us. We are called to love all of these. Then we got a booklet we can use for the next 4 weeks to go through some of the material on our own. (I put a pic that had Daline in it above because in my life, she is the one who I've known the longest who has truly been a Joy to love).

I am adding Beth's blog to my blogroll because I so love her!

More may come soon, but I wanted to just say that I came home to the most sweet valentine you can imagine. Doug sent me a "secret note" It came in a puzzle that I had to print out and then rearrange to uncode my secret message. (I hope he doesn't mind I am posting it on my blog and now it's not so secret! LOL).

A picture at the main lodge, where we stayed, and had our retreat sessions at. The retreat was held at Forest Glen outside of Huntsville and it was wooded and very beautiful. I didn't take any pictures outside though! I did lie near the lake on a bench and sit and pray quietly, and then also went on a nice walk around the lake with G later in the day. G and I - we drove up together! She's a wonderful woman with a kind heart and soul and a mentor to me. :)

The bed where I slept... notice the grey shirt? That's Doug's! I like to wear his shirt when he's gone because it reminds me of him! :) Plus it's super comfy...
I came home to this "secret note" from Doug. I had to print it out and puzzle it together.
All I can say is... I'm a lucky girl! :)

Here's a youtube video talking about the Loving Well Series. The 2nd part is here:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Thank You India

As I mentioned yesterday, after having an online conversation with a friend about India, I realized I have a lot of photos from those couple of days of our Nepal trek that I hadn't put online. In fact I have so many hundreds of photos from Nepal that there are MANY that have never seen the light of day. These photos are from towards the end of our trek when we got to the area of Nepal near the India border. We went over into India for one night and stayed at this beautiful cabin next to the Jogmai Tea Estate in the town of Meghma, India, which is not far from Darjeeling. I still have a box of Meghma tea in my cupboard, which is organic, and very good! So anyway here are some more photos from my trip. Enjoy! I'll be gone this weekend at my church's women's retreat in Huntsville, so that should be really nice. I'm looking forward to it!

Madan Tamang, owner of the Jogmai Tea Estate, and Brian Williams, Director of the Red Panda Network (RPN), walk in the mist on the tea plantation grounds. Madan has a passion for rhododendrons as well and is restoring many native rhododendrons to his land, and reforesting with other trees as well. Here is an interesting interview with him on TheSimpleLeaf website. RPN leads eco-treks through Nepal for other travelers also if you're interested - check them out!
Brian, Sonam (behind), Madan, and Mickey Mestel (a fellow trekker) walk along the path.
I don't think this is even taken at Madan's tea plantation but another one, but it shows the way the tea grows, and I think it's a cool photo. This is inside the gorgeous cabin where we stayed. Very upscale and very moderately priced and a world apart from the places most trekkers stay when trekking through Nepal!! This is Brian on the far left wall, Tim Gorski (Director, Cultural Film Fund), and Mickey and Madan in the background.
A close up of some of the tools used in processing the tea, when it's being dried.
Madan tells us about how he dries and processes the tea. No tea is drying right now because it wasn't the season for it to be drying.
This was the vehicle we drove to Meghma in. Most of the time we trekked but for this part into India we all piled into this tiny vehicle, WITH our gear. So that would like oh gosh I need to double check this but at least 9 or 10 people plus gear. That doesn't count the driver.
Yep we got a flat tire on the way too, and I've never mentioned that! These were obviously the infamous "retreads."
Across the street from Madan's estate is this. If I remember correctly, it is a gompa which is a Zen Buddhist temple but it's also housing a bunch of artifacts that Madan's father or grandfather got from Tibet many years ago. The building on the right is where all the artifacts or gods-n-goddesses are which I'll show in a sec.
A close up of the wall.
A close up of the stupa, the dome shape on top of the gompa (monastery).
Another close-up of the wall, with tibetan prayer flags.
Inside the building were all these statuettes. There were hundreds of them! These were on the second floor of the building. The first floor was the more traditional gompa, or monastery, where the prayers take place. The sceond floor was almost like a museum with all these statuettes and artifacts.
Some little cups lined the walls near the glassed-in statuettes.
Some candles were lit.
Madan spins a giant prayer wheel clockwise, inside the gompa. Buddhists believe that spinning the prayer wheels, which are printed with the Tibetan prayer mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, reverses any bad karma you have and help you on the path to enlightenment.

All photo Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

i was a wild child...

Zen Buddhist gods and goddess statuettes in a museum on the border of India-Nepal. ! A conversation on Facebook with a friend reminded me of the one day we spent there in India, and going back through my photos I realized just how many I have never shared... I plan to include a whole bunch of pictures tomorrow from this part of my trek in a blog post tomorrow, and here's a teaser...
Copyright (c) 2007 Wendee Holtcamp

My boyfriend lives in Cypress, and that is where I went to high school (Cy-Fair High School). Cypress - just west of Houston is not a place I used to visit often and though I had some great times and great friends, a lot of "bad things" happened to me in high school also and it was a very tumultuous time at home, and in my life. So every time I would drive down FM 1960, which turns into Highway 6, toward Doug's place, I would drive right by my old house. You can see it from the road, and the first time I realized that I was driving past it I was like (to Doug), "Oh my GOD that was the house I lived in during high school! Look! I used to sneak out and go to that market and buy cigarettes! In fact that was where I smoked cigarettes for the first time!" So it was a major blast from the past. I drove by it umpteen times during December and then, one time I decided to stop by and take some pictures, and here they are.

Mind you I was a bit of a wild child in high school. My friends would spend the night because we could easily come in at our curfew, set the alarm, pretend to go to bed, and then quietly as a mouse sneak back down the stairs (we knew exactly which one squeaked), turn off the alarm, quietly open the back door, and go sit outside by the pool. We had it down pat. We'd sit outside at the pool for 5 minutes to make sure no one woke up. That way if they did, we could just say we were out there talking and smoking a cigarette (my mom knew I smoked back then). Then when no one came out (they never did), we'd climb over my fence and to the M&M market that was right behind my house - where someone would pick us up (or we'd have the friend's car parked). Boy we had that routine down pat. We'd stay out til all hours of the morning. At least I can tell my kids I know all the tricks so they better not even think they will get away with it!! My mom was a bit naive about such things... Maybe benign neglect?

Anyway...when I saw the house it was very weird, because I did not recognize it. I mean I knew exactly where it was, and which house it was, but when I saw it, I hadn't remembered it looking exactly like that. Or the yard being so small. But the first thing I thought was, of course, the time the guy dumped me on my front lawn, still too drunk to walk, after I was date raped and left me like a worthless piece of trash. I have written about that night of my life on here before, a couple times, but this was just all very weird to go back there. All the memories. My first boyfriend. My first truly "best friend." First time smoking. All the good and all the bad. That was the beginning of my journey into adulthood, my young adulthood and those were not good ways to be initiated into adulthood. My college years would prove to be much better.

This is the house I grew up in, during high school (moved there in 10th grade).
This is the view behind the house. We had a covered pool, which is what this is, and you can see it right off of Hwy 6.
M&M Food market where I used to buy my Ritz Menthol cigarettes. When I was taking pictures of the market and my house the guy who works there came out and was wondering why I was shooting pics. He didn't like it!
Do you see that little green electrical box? That is what we would step onto after climbing on the fence.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

not much

The wind blowing Tibetan prayer flags. Owl Mountain Retreat Center, near Abiquiu, NM
Copyright (c) 2006 Wendee Holtcamp

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. - Thomas Edison

Some days the words just pour forth, and I MUST blog, I must write, I must journal. Other times the well runs dry. The past few days I've spent a lot of time with short snippy snippets on facebook but not really something to say on my blog. I wish I could say I've been working madly on my book. I finished a draft of the first four chapters, which makes me very happy, but now I need to stand back and see how they all fit together. That is a bit overwhelming. Next I will be writing up my trip to the Carl Baugh's Creation Evidence Museum... and that whole chapter. Oh boy! I have the exciting task of transcribing all the conversations that we had, which I recorded on my handy dandy digital recorder.

I've been giving feedback to my writing students over the past couple of days on their assignments, and getting caught up on email. There were some emails I hadn't replied to from DECEMBER! Course I was spending a lot of time back in December with Doug... I miss that man! He calls me almost every day and sometimes the time gets away from us, and we can talk for an hour! It is all I have (except the occasional email...their internet is very slow) and so I enjoy every second of it!

Oh I wanted to give a shout out to a new blog for a new play: "The E Word: a playground adaptation". Sounds hilarious! I cross-posted this on my Fish Wars blog, but thought I'd mention it here too! I met the playwright, Sharon Sparlin, at the November 2008 hearings at the State Board of Education in Austin.

Also wanted to post a link to one of my past writing students website, Liz Soutendijk, Notes on Nature. She mentions my writing class on her site, and it has some great bits of writing and some gorgeous photography of her land. She saw me speak at the University of North Texas (UNT) Nature Writing Symposium in 2007 and then took my class. She is a master naturalist and got published in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine! Check out Audio Tour Guide: Informative audio enhances self-guided tours at Caprock Canyons and Washington-on-the-Brazos. One of these days I should gather together publications and such that resulted from my class into a file! I think I'll do that after I get my book done. :) If you want to get published, and learn the ropes of the industry, I have a class coming up starting Feb 21! (deadline to register Feb 15). Contact me for more info or check out my writing course page!