Traveling Again? Are You Sure?

It’s a funny thing how much we forget when we look the other way. To be honest, I always assume that “what you know” is what you know, and it’s yours for life.

Cue laughter.

Cue more laughter.

But it seems that during the pandemic, when we fashioned a whole new way of living, a lot of the daily stuff fell right out of my brain due to a change of focus. Sure I wrote a lot and published a book, but the truth is that when they say “use it or lose it” — well, it’s not just a poetic suggestion.

As it happens, I’m about to return to travel, and surprisingly I find myself looking through old trips to remember what I used to pack. Honestly, it’s a bit mortifying. And since I’m scheduled for four delightful outings this year, I need a primer … and I need it fast.

It used to be so easy. I knew exactly what I needed for the time of year and location, I knew exactly where it was in my closet, and I knew exactly how much (or how little!) to pack. Dare I say … it was fun. And I repeatedly threw it all together the day before take-off.

This year, ahem, I pulled down my faithful suitcase, stared at it for a couple of days, and then started a walkabout to decide which items might be selected. Basically, I needed to be warm and dry, which is not always easy in Ireland. So basically, that meant dry clothes to wear while wet clothes are drying.

And then there’s the task itself. Yes, I remember how to pack (roll it up). Yes, I remember WHAT to pack. Well … mostly. But if I forget something, I can probably get it there, right? Probably maybe.

But my biggest pickle is with the airlines, which I suppose is nothing new. Two legs over and two legs back, with the middle legs on a different airline. (Cue laughter)

How hard can it be to reserve a seat? There are people, there are seats, and the seats are designed to seat the people. Voila. And yet ….

To be fair, the airline provides some directions for claiming a seat. “Please ensure that you are aware of the latest travel requirements for your destination prior to arriving at the airport.”

No biggie. I click on the italicized portion and … nothing. I eventually find and click on a much longer description of available seats (with photos!) and … nothing.

So here’s the deal. Basically, there are seats for anything and everyone, including musical instruments and pets, But somehow, there’s no way for ME to reserve a seat. There are words about choosing and reserving your seat, which is lovely, but the actual directions for claiming a seat appear not to exist. The seats just sit there, refusing to allow even the tiniest, softest click.

You can, of course, return to the beginning, where they will string you along with another option for claiming a seat, but … there’s no link for clicking or claiming or exchanging or sneaking or stealing — leaving me with only zero options. No phone assistance. No website assistance. No feeling that everything is under control. I do have a piece of paper that looks rather like a ticket and a six digit number that could, I suppose, perform the duties of a ticket … but … is it really? And if it is, why can’t I claim it???

And so my return to travel takes on something of my younger days, when skies were indeed friendly, the leather seats were deep and wide, and the gates were rife with family members hugging goodbyes as you as you flew seamlessly into adventure.

Only with none of that.

Verging On Hysteria?

“I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.”
Tennessee Williams

And although the images above could very easily work to convey a group of hysterics, they are, in fact, regular people competing in a “Stella” Screaming Contest. And though I’m not a suitable Stella-Screaming prospect, I’d show up to watch in a heartbeat.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure why. Though I’ve seen much of his work, I’m not really a Tennessee Williams fan.

Is it the full-throaters? The constant comics? The attention grabbers? Not so much. I’m just ever and always an admirer of those who can jump in and give it all they’ve got.

Are you an avid Tennessee Williams lover? Mildly interested? Begrudgingly tolerant? Trying to find the up side? Or pretty put off?

Mosaics in Ireland

My studio mate in Ireland and I are both mosaic artists. One of us (NOT me) churns out gorgeous new work daily, and you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on her!

I, on the other hand, tend to spend a lot of time in my head and approach the actual work with the zeal of a sloth and the pace of a snail. I’m tempted to start making pieces now, so I can simply pop one out of my suitcase every other day and wow myself with my “productivity.”

Does that count?

But sometimes, and often in Ireland, I’m so overwhelmed by beauty and generosity that art just rolls right out of me like so many thank-yous to the universe.

The art above is one of those gifts.

On the left is a slightly blurred photo that I took about a decade ago on a gorgeous windy day during my first residency in Listowel, Ireland. We were exploring and enjoying a glorious walk on a glorious sandy beach — first along the high dunes and then down to the water under brilliant blue skies. That’s where I discovered the yellow shells shown in my last post, as well as a host of pink darlings twirling joyously in the breeze that immediately became my inspiration. On the right is the stained glass mosaic that I created from my photo.

If you happen to find yourself in Ireland during the month of April, please stop by and say hello. If we’re lucky, you may be be able to join us for a workshop! (Date to be determined; likely mid April)

Dear Ireland: I’ve missed you so!

I’ve missed your lonnnnnnng frothy grasses, your ubiquitous flowers and delightfully moody seas. I’ve missed your shells of every color, and certainly your mind-blowing hand-built walls. And your stripey stones — how could I turn away from such whimsy?

I’ve missed your waterside horses and donkeys and cows inching closer and ever closer while hoping to get to know us better. I’ve missed your poets and your deep love of writing. I’ve missed your lovely tea rooms, your lobsters, your ubiquitous inlets, and your spell binding vistas over land and sea.

And I think —

You’re waiting for me, aren’t you?

Only 13 sleeps … and some fleece-lined pants. And two wool hats because one will need drying while the other is worn, and weather-proofed boots ….

But IRELAND!!!!!!!!

I’ve missed you so ….

Bad People

Yesterday I had my purse stolen. I was in a quiet corner of a public place that I visit daily for writing sessions. Everyone is always, always quietly respectful and attentive to their own work. We recognize each other though, for the most part, smile at the children who come in, and our eyes glitter at the parents. It’s a happy place. A safe place. A place largely inhabited by kind, quiet souls who create — some for a living, and others because it’s simply what we do.

What we don’t do is steal.

Every day I spend a few hours writing. It’s hard to write at home — too many chores starting me in the face — so I trek daily to my favorite bookstore, grab a chair, fall immediately into my zone, and have at it. It’s a beautiful part of my day — silence, creativity, kindred spirits, and a lovely unspoken support for each other.

I’m not going to say that yesterday changed things, because I won’t allow that. It will take me a few days though. I’m mad. Hurt. But trucking along, or attempting to.

Yesterday was a very quiet day — only a few tables taken, and I sat in my usual spot, wedged my bag and my computer bag between the table and the short wall, turned my chair at a slight angle, pulled out my laptop, and started writing. I was aware of a guy sitting close behind me — he was a bit gangly and wore all gray. I had my head in my work, as did the others around me. Well, mostly.

I started a post about Ireland. When I finished a quick first draft, I reached for my bag so I could grab an afternoon snack. The bag was now under my chair rather than against the wall and beneath bag two, as I had left it. I pulled it out, looked through it several times, and realized that my purse was indeed missing. This guy was smooth.

It’s been 22 years since my purse was last stolen, Twenty-two years since our house was robbed. You begin to trust. Again. I spent the rest of the day closing accounts with my husband. I think we shut him down (along with his several $2200 Nordstrom purchases and a $775 drugstore purchase), so hopefully there’s not much of a financial loss.

The loss, of course, is trust.

I’m going to try my level damn best to hold on to it.

Accidental Obsessions

Scarlet. Vermilion. Ruby. Cherry. Cerise. Crimson. Oh, the colors that grab us and make us their own.

You know it. I know it. The question is, do we hide it or flaunt it?

We all have obsessions — some more than others of course (ahem) — and for the most part, they’re harmless and fun. Let’s face it, if you have a passion, it’s never a one-time deal. You’re definitely, without the skinniest skinny of a doubt, going back for more.

It was exhibition time, and this month it was our turn to choose, our turn to flaunt, perhaps even our turn to be a bit naughty, and we were three girls at the ready.

We named this show Accidental Obsessions, because at some point, aren’t they all? Right before you just can’t get enough.

“Accidental” is an interesting word, isn’t it? I can’t help wondering where the line is between truly “accidental” and “planned in obsessive detail over at least two thirds of my entire life.” I’ve known a lot of shoe girls over the years, and no wonder — they strike the eye like wildfire.

I’ll quickly admit that the photos to the right look vaguely like something from a murder scene. Red has no bounds, and still we gasp and grab.

P.S. This display was created by Ciel Gallery in Charlotte several years ago as a teaser for an art exhibition. We drove to the nearest Goodwill and bought all the red shoes we could find, painted a few extras, and put on our Come Hither looks. A totally delicious evening!

Star Struck

A few years ago, I took a walk with my son and grandson through Historic Fourth Ward Park — a beautiful wildflower and indigenous plant heaven with a watershed pond smack in the middle of Midtown Atlanta. We walked and walked and gaped in surprise at the loveliness in front of us. And isn’t it funny how many “native” plants you’ve never seen before? Humans do have a bottomless hunger for the new, don’t we? — so often ignoring what’s right in front of us.

After resetting my expectations, I wanted to sit on the steps a bit and get a fuller view, and then a thing happened — I glanced down. And then? Sprinkled across the steps were metallic stars and equally delightful shapes in every color just sitting there glittering at me.

At first I wondered why someone had left their treasure behind, but I soon realized the answer — of course they had left them for me, and for any other passerby who needed a moment of joy.

As summer continued, I made two additional trips to Atlanta, again charmed by walks and hikes and exploring with no agenda other than Mac’s nap time. We could go anywhere, and indeed we went everywhere — parks and woodlands and rivers and bamboo forests and streams cleansed the soul and sharpened the vision, and it was bliss.

And surprisingly, the stars never stopped appearing, showing themselves on the Georgia Tech campus, city streets, the Doll Cemetery, along river beaches and woods, at a roadside memorial, the waterfall park in Greenville, my Charlotte walking path, and even at Pawleys Island. I knew they were left for me — left for each of us — as a message to hold on, look high, laugh, eat good food, create, sharpen my sight, keep walking, keep acknowledging, keep dreaming.

Nine months later I bought a package of gold stars and we tossed them high on New Year’s Eve. Not surprisingly, there are still a gracious plenty between the planks of my kitchen table, and seeing one glint with the light as I walk past never fails to make me happy. And now since that very first 2020 sighting of the stars, they’ve just kept coming, usually where you’d least expect to see them, and other times when you need to see them most.

We are never as alone as we feel.

Little Darlings

Last week I had the supreme pleasure of playing with babies, and I can tell you right off that there’s nothing better.

Nothing. But you knew that.

It all started with a parental trip to the hinterlands of a 40 foot snowfall — the perfect adventure in the perfect location, otherwise known as “too far away for the sitter to throw a tantrum and beg them to come home.”

Consequently, it didn’t matter if the kiddies loved me or loathed me — they were 100% stuck with me for a week. I, of course, was in heaven.

I now realize that I never really envisioned heaven properly. I knew it involved glitter, Bluey, dancing raucously atop the four foot high marble island, tiny tea sets with tiny spoons, and running with scissors. Still, while my own imagination may have begun drooping at least hourly, these babes never once drooped, not even during my mental collapse and their subsequent invasion of the blue and white “good” china. “Ooooh, let’s play flying saucer!!!”

Bath time rodeos? Check! Midnight sonatas? Check! The quick consummation of 5 bags (at 48 pieces per bag) of chicken nuggets for dinner three nights in a row? Check! Painting grandma’s hair with glitter bombs? Check!

But oh the joy of it all — I just can’t tell you — though I’ll gladly share a bit below:

Images taken at Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Fernbank, and Virginia Highlands, left to right: Smiling Giant, Wishful Thinking, Giant Wooden Forest Tulips, A Garden of Mesh Birds, the Water Maiden, Happy Frogs, Planting for Spring, Pure Joy

Teetering on the Edge

I’m not the

edgy girl.

No tats, no spikes, no dreads.

No piercings, no punk.

I may

on certain


look like the herd animal who


and waits

and watches —

hour by


In truth,

I love to teeter on the edge.

I love the glance.

There are lifetimes in a glance.

I love the sudden moment,

the realization that points me toward a choice.

I love the choosing,

rife with possibility.

I love the release,

the willing trade of certainty for chance.

I love the dance,

the should I? in full blood alliance with the windswept YES.

I love the joy,

the fearless taking of the Yes Yes Yes.

I love the leap,

the secret willingness to fly.

I love the fall to earth,

my home, my love.

Waves may be small, but oh

I love

the splash.

© Pam Goode

I Don’t Understand

(Mosaic by Pam Goode)

There are so many people walking in my neighborhood. They walk for relief, to exercise their pups, to grab at the sun, for a bit of human contact, to fill and empty and refill their lungs, to live, to be life, to embrace the simple and push aside the rest.

It seems so lovely, and yet …. sometimes I wonder at this other life we live.

I wonder why we can’t halt the world at its simplest and most pure — even for a moment — and revel in it enough to get us through until the next human-made catastrophe.

I don’t understand why some have the desire to overpower. Why the rush to war … or even the acceptance of war? I don’t understand how to turn a blind eye to madness just because it’s not on my turf.

I don’t understand why or how we move from “different” to “hate.”

I don’t understand the need to control, to subjugate. I don’t understand the ego boost of physically overpowering another human being just because you can.

We’re all capable of self control, even when some part of us struggles with it.

When I was young, I believed that if I looked closely at all the horror and pain that I saw around me and really felt it, then karma would be served and I wouldn’t have to live the horror myself. I’ve been lucky there.

And yet it isn’t unusual to see horror bestowed on the gentlest and most generous.

I don’t understand.

I don’t understand.

Why can’t we all look at a human being and see a human being?