poetry, prose, and image by Brittney S Holland

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roman Holiday Faves

...in no particular order
  1. the pastries
  2. the espresso
  3. the wine
  4. cobbled stone streets
  5. street side cafes
  6. the little, old men (so charming)
  7. the windows in my hotel room
  8. confession at The Vatican
  9. mass at The Vatican
  10. The Sistine Chapel
  11. The Basilica de Santa Maria in Trastevera
  12. the piazza in Trastevera on Sunday afternoon

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Who Knew?

I promise to continue my posts on Italy, but today I want to write about something else, a jewel of a discovery I made while browsing a vintage bookshop on Friday. Eudora Welty was a photographer. Yes, Eudora Welty. Who knew?

Don't know Eudora Welty? That's quite alright. She's an American author, highly anthologized for her stories set in the American South. You perhaps read her along the same time you read stories by Katherine Anne Porter and Flannery O'Connor. Don't recognizes those names? Perhaps that's because their stories too often pale in the literary lights of William Faulkner, Earnest Hemingway and John Steinbeck. Those were, indeed, "hard acts to follow"...especially for a Southern woman.

Such is life.

But it's Eudora's photographs I want to talk to you about today. They are truly captivating. Vintage...yes. A little rough at times...yes. I think these add to their character. And...perhaps my fascination with the recently discovered Vivian Maier and her soon-to-be-released book of images (November) predisposes me to such excitement, but I am truly enchanted. For those of you who are photography buffs, Eudora's images are not fine art photography; they are street images. Mostly, she captures people living in and around Mississippi, people who resonate with the images I conjure when I read her stories. And...perhaps it is this that captures me.

I , too, love watching people, filing them away in my mind for a future speaker in a poem. I also love the insights I gain about humanity while watching others (especially when they don't know I'm watching).

If only I possessed Eudora's courage. (Alas, I am shy.) Her images, unlike the street shots I posted from my trip to Rome, are intimate. Her subjects clearly know they are being photographed, and many times they look directly into the lens.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

love and water

Rome, Italy 2011

I have come to understand that love is like water. Try to resist love, withhold love, contain it…it will forge its way forth. Consider the Grand Canyon. Erosion exists because water must find its way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

savoring the moment

-espresso at a street-side cafe in Rome, Italy, 2011 (iPhone image)

Here in the US, a cup of coffee is often an afterthought, something we order to accompany something else. “I’ll have a blueberry muffin and a large coffee with two creams.” “I’d like a piece of your apple pie and a cup of decaf.” And with the help of Starbucks’ marketing, cups of coffee have even been ushered into the realm of modern accessory (still an accompaniment). “Sunglasses…check. iPhone…check. White, paper cup with cardboard sleeve…check.”

What’s that?

Do you doubt me?

How else can we explain the popularity of “coffee drinks,” many of which are ten percent coffee and ninety percent syrupy, creamy goodness? Those, dear readers, are for the consumer who likes the idea of coffee more than the coffee itself.

In Rome, however, a “cup of coffee” – more specifically espresso or cappuccino – is both an event and the star attraction. Every café I visited had an espresso bar, appointed with stools and brass foot rails. I saw no drive-thru service options, and I saw no paper cups in the hands of passers by. Romans take time for a leisurely cup. They sit, they sip, and they talk.

(I’d also like to add that their servings were mostly very small and very dark. No fluff there, honey!)

Here’s a thought…

How often do we take time out of our day for a cup of anything? Time and out are the operative words in that question. Time spent doing nothing but enjoying a cup of coffee or tea or even ice water? Time spent with our own thoughts, or time spent enjoying someone else’s company? So caught up are we in the fashion of multi-tasking, that I suspect most of us are mindlessly sipping while checking our e-mails or texting or driving or watching television. Some of you, perhaps, are sipping while reading this blog.

That is certainly our way in the Holland house. Regardless of the beverage, multi-tasking supersedes human-to-human interaction. The television is almost always on. There are three people, three laptops, three cell phones. It should go without saying, then, that my favorite times of the day are school mornings, dinnertime, and my son’s bedtime.

Mornings, because my son’s face is the first face I see (well, the second actually, since Simon’s is the first…met about two inches from my nose.) Then while my son showers, Simon and I go outside for some early-morning fetch beneath the stars…and yes, I always sip my morning cup.

Bedtime is when I get to enjoy some surprisingly quality moments with my son. (Sometimes I think he’s more talkative at bedtime to prolong the inevitable, but I’m not complaining.)

Dinnertime, unfortunately, grows increasingly hit-or-miss as his activity schedule becomes more complex, and as our house increasingly becomes the neighborhood hangout for his friends (I’ve finally convinced his father that this is a good thing).

With all this multi-tasking and digital media that’s supposed to help mankind streamline lives, why are we not discovering more time for each other? Why do we seem to grow more and more disconnected from one another?

Here’s my challenge to you.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, or a cold beer if that’s your preference, and turn off the television. Close your laptop and silence your phone. Then…spend however long it takes you to SIP your beverage enjoying the moment. Enjoying someone’s company? Well that’s an added bonus.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"For us to go to Italy..."

"and to penetrate into Italy is like a most fascinating act of self-discovery –

back, back down the old ways of time....

Strange and wonderful chords awake in us,

and vibrate again after many hundreds of years of complete forgetfulness."

Sea and Sardinia, D.H. Lawrence

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Time to Focus on Me

Rome, Italy 2011

If you have been following Simon Says for a while, then you know I contracted Dengue Fever while in Puerto Rico. At the time, it seemed a terribly cruel twist of irony…I finally had an opportunity to travel beyond the continental US, and I came home with an illness that landed me in the hospital.

Dengue Fever isn’t something we see much here; I believe I was one of five reported cases among Georgia residents (since the 90’S?). My blood work was sent to the CDC for an official diagnosis, and it was the CDC who “followed up” with me after my release. So, when my physician admitted me to the hospital, he sent me with the knowledge that there are four strains (one of which can be fatal) and the hope that mine would be one of the other three. I was classified neutropenic and denied visitors, flowers, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. I was hooked up to IV fluids and told to wait. Wait and see what happens. Wait on the CDC. Wait.

Idly waiting is not something I do well. My patience is only as good as my ability to stay busy. There, in that hospital bed, with no energy and no one to keep me company, all I could do was lie there and think. I thought about my life and of all the things for which I still hoped. I thought about the thin line I walked between nobly accepting circumstances and my own cowardice. I am not unlike Thornton Wilder’s Marquesa in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. I too realized the reality of my life. Thank goodness God has afford me a different fate than Wilder afforded The Marquesa. (She fell with the bridge two days later.) I recovered from Dengue and continually strive to live differently.

When my time comes, no one will care how smart I am or how many degrees I hold or how many scholarly texts I write. What will matter is how I loved. So I have given up my pursuit of a PhD, not because I no longer wish to teach literature at the college level, but because of the sacrifices the coursework demands. I have given up my position as the English Department Chair where I teach. I have given up my Advanced Placement classes. I have given up these things because of their demands on my time, time I want to spend being a fully-present mother while I still have a child young enough to need me. And...I now have time to write for pleasure and garden and cook and run and take pictures and play the piano. I now have time to spend a leisurely, Sunday afternoon cuddling on the couch with a lazy, lovable weim. I now have time to go to museums and to the symphony, time to study a little Italian, time to drop everything and go to Rome.

With all this time on my hands, I am a much happier person than I was before Dengue. I smile more. I laugh more. I love more openly and more fully. I see moments now, moments I might otherwise have missed.

Friday, September 30, 2011

small talk and pastries

Each morning I walked to a different café for breakfast. My order was always the same: one croissant, a cappuccino, and a bottle of water for later.

What amazed me is that croissants in Italy seem to vary quite a bit. Each croissant had a slightly different texture and a distinctly different flavor. One came filled with a lemon curd and was sprinkled with powdered sugar. One was lightly flavored with orange zest and a light glaze. Another was chocolate. They were all fabulous.

My favorite croissant, however, came served by a very chatty waiter who quickly exhausted my Italian and seemed to speak no English. Our “common” language, therefore, became Spanish, where he guided me through all the textbook, conversational phrases I know.

Eventually, he asked me my age. My age? My mind flashed. Is that more “acceptable” in other cultures, or is he just trying to keep our conversation going?

I couldn’t remember how to say the number in Spanish, so I held up my fingers and said it in English. His eyes grew large, and he said. "No, no…cuarenta y uno?"

"Si," I nodded, "cuarenta y uno. Forty-one."

My friendly, croissant-wielding waiter put his hands to his face. "Bonita!" he said. Then he pointed at me and waved his hands in an hourglass shape. "Muy bonita!"

What flavor was that particular croissant? I have no idea.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

street shots

(Notice the pup?)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

a margin of independence

“…Can’t it help you to see that there is something wrong when all the dreams in this house – good or bad – had to depend on something that might never have happened if a man had not died? We always say at home: Accident was at the first and will be at the last a poor tree from which the fruits of life may bloom.”

-Asagai, A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

I have taught this play several times through the years, but these lines have never resonated until this fall. You see, I paid for my trip to Rome with an inheritance from my father.

What he left me was not a grand sum. I am not wealthy. I am, however, rich with opportunities and dreams finally fulfilled through his gift to me…and by the margin of independence his gift has afforded.

So when I noticed this little man, I had to snap this pic.

I miss my father. My father was the only person in my life (other than my little sister) who asked to read my poetry. I don’t think he was particularly interested…but he was interested in me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Have you ever felt that God is allowing you to see what could have been?

Sometimes I do.

You see, I was foolish in my youth. I was foolish and shortsighted

And then I set about trying to “undo” what I had done wrong. I tried to make the best of a bad situation.

Will I spend the rest of my life paying penance for those sins? I honestly do not know what God has in store for me.

There is one thing I do know for sure…there may be no greater love (of which we mortals are capable) than that of a mother. It is this belief that draws me to the Holy Mother.

If there is any human creature who can possibly understand me and the choices I have made (choices I still make)…she can. If there is any mortal to whom I can run for comfort…I can run to her.

Long before I was Catholic, I revered the Virgin Mother. I have never been that good. I have never known such faith. I have never felt such sorrow.

If she can endure, so can I.

When I became Catholic, I came home.

I can’t tell you why I know this, I just know…somewhere in my bones. I look back now, and I see the “pulls” since my childhood ( I would offer you a list, but I fear you would grow bored).

I have known since 2000. Known…beyond any doubt.

I recently told my mother that Catholicism is in my DNA; I was meant to be Catholic. She didn’t laugh.

You see, I was raised Protestant...I was baptized Presbyterian. I graduated from a Church of God university, where I received a minor in Bible Studies. I married a Methodist. I served as a Children’s Choir Director at a Baptist Church. I have taught British Literature, Old Testament Literature and New Testament Literature in public high school, and I have done graduate studies in The Christian Rhetoric of Modern Literature. I have grappled with predestination, damnation, and the tenants of the protestant reformation. I have read Augustine and Dawkins, Warren and Hahn. I am for all practical purposes a mutt. But all of my studies and all of my experiences have led me to this one conclusion: none of us have it all figured out. Man’s interpretation of God is far too primitive.

So what do I do? I listen to my spirit...I follow my heart. I pray.

I chose Catholicism because of this force in my spirit, calling me -- a force so great that I (a wordsmith) cannot name it. I chose Catholicism because that which Christ entrusted to Simon Peter is (quite simply) good enough for me. I chose Catholicism because Catholic worship nurtures every sensory receptor I possess…because there is beauty in every step along the liturgical way.

So why, you might ask, if I have known this since 2000, would I wait so long? Because…I am unequally yoked. And, when I finally found my courage, I waited still… for the right words and the right time. (See, I told you I’m a life-long student of patience.)

It still wasn’t easy. I met resistance…and criticism. I was accused of being disrespectful to the institution of husband.

In the end, however, my faith was met.

Please do not take my words as a testament to the virtues of a “defiant wife.” If anything, accept these as a testament to the virtues of a “praying wife” or to the virtues of prayer and the soulful pursuit of God’s will for the individual.

Going to Rome, then, was a pilgrimage in its purest sense. It was a chance for me to step out in blind faith…traveling entirely alone to a foreign country…away from my native tongue and native customs…to live completely with my own thoughts and my own spirit. It was a ritual of homecoming, a ritual of validation that I am finally going where I was always meant to be.

I traveled to the seat of Simon Peter, the foundation of Christianity. I confessed my sins on that sacred ground and attended mass in full communion with the Catholic church. I entered into the presence of the transfigured body of Christ and was at that moment as holy as I can possibly be in this lifetime.

By the way, have I ever told you how my precious pup got his name?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Good things come

to those who wait…and wait…and wait. Patience. I am a life-long student of this virtue.

one of 140 saint sculptures adorning the top of The Vatican’s colonnade

In 1980, The Vatican announced its plan to restore The Sistine Chapel, and in 1983, National Geographic did a spread on the restoration’s progress. I remember this article and how I poured over its pages of text and image. Since then, visiting the Sistine Chapel has been a dream of mine.

Twenty-eight years later, I finally set foot on that sacred floor. I stood beneath Michelangelo’s magnificent work which gleams from the ceiling above. I found a seat along the stone wall and quietly wept.

I do that sometimes. Weep…in the presence of beauty. Please don’t laugh.

I am one who feels wholly and deeply. If I were a superhero, that would be my power. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

When I planned this trip, there were only three places I planned to visit. This was one of the three. Yes, I hear your collective queries. Why not more? Why not the magnificent piazzas? Why not the Roman ruins? For me, the answer is simple.. Because I didn’t want to be rushed. Because this trip was not really a vacation. Because this journey was very personal and very spiritual.

Did I take any pictures for you? No. Not there. Photographs are not permitted inside the chapel. Even if they were…I still wouldn’t have pulled out my camera. I find it difficult for me to photograph certain things. In this instance, I am not worthy. That is a calling for others far more gifted with a camera than I. I am called simply to witness.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Italian Tail for Simon (who wishes pics were scratch 'n sniff)

Rome, Italy 2011

"The reason a dog has so many friends, is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue."


Friday, September 23, 2011

On Flying Solo

Traveling alone isn’t something I mind. Perhaps my solitary youth prepared me for such. Perhaps my marriage to one who’s “all about the destination” when I’m “all about the journey” has left me no other choice.

Either way, traveling alone affords me the freedom to linger when something moves me, to recognize God in the smallest details, to pause and listen when He speaks.

My first solo flight was to Puerto Rico, to Santurce and Old San Juan. I stayed two weeks for a writer’s workshop, attending sessions a couple hours per day. I spent the rest of my time mostly alone, wandering and writing.

I have visited New York City and Washington DC sans ami.

Rome, however, is my greatest solo flight. This time I loaded my iPhone with an Italian language app and an interactive GPS. I spent four glorious days by myself. (I would have stayed longer, were it not for my work schedule and my wallet.)

Unless addressed in English, I tried to communicate in Italian. Other than my transports to and from the airport, I walked everywhere I went.

I visited The Vatican, where I went to confession and attended Mass.

I visited The Sistine Chapel and The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevera.

I ate at street side bistros and drank wine with both lunch and dinner. I attempted small talk with my waiters and met a wonderful trio from England.

At every turn, I tried my best to blend in.

I must have met some degree of success, because one gentleman seemed surprised that I am American and said he had me pegged for a German.

That evening, I ordered my entire meal, chatted with my waiter, and paid my bill entirely in Italian (broken Italian, but still Italian).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When in Rome...

This is me, on my first evening in Rome, after a little nap.
As mentioned in a previous post, I traveled alone.
So yes, this one's a self-portrait.


Before heading out to dinner, I thought I should snap a few quick pics for my son and for you.
Below are a couple of my teeny, tiny room.

Notice the walls on either side of my night stands.
Notice how close my knees are to the bathroom doorway while sitting on the foot of my bed.

Nope. Never did try out that bidet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Promises to Keep

You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you. I promised you postings about my trip to Rome, and then I fell silent for five months.

I have a confession to make. I’m not really sure how to tell this story.

Maybe it’s a superstition, but there is this theory among writers that stories have energy. Those who believe this will not discuss a project before its completion, because its inherent energy is lost in the telling, lost before that energy can be translated onto the page.

I’m not sure what I believe. I have, indeed, lost momentum on projects after sharing my ideas with a friend or fellow writer. Some of these projects eventually saw completion. Some fell dead in the water. Lifeless. Spent.

I still feel the energy of Rome. After all this time. What if I tell you…and then it’s gone?

Perhaps that is the real root of my silence.

Perhaps you will think I’m overly sentimental.

Perhaps you will think I’m just nuts.

Perhaps not.

Time will tell, I guess, and you will either continue to visit Simon Says or you will drift quietly away.

I hope you will stay.


P.S. Yes, this is an old-fashioned room key...not a swipe card. And yes, the concierge pulled this key from a wall of cubbies, each cubby for a different room in the hotel. I have to say, I felt a bit like a stand-in for a James Bond film (only without the stillettos and the double D's).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Case You Haven't Noticed

I am a hypocrite.

This past weekend I attended a gallery opening at a local museum and heard myself utter to one of the artists/photographers that I dabble with photography for a blog I write.

“…for a blog I write?” Really? Did I just allow those words to slip past my lips?

Thank goodness you weren’t there.

Because you who have been following Simon Says…you who have checked and rechecked for an update from me since… (oh my goodness, I’m so embarrassed)… MARCH…know all too well that the phrase “…a blog I used to write” is far more accurate.

Well, since I’m weighing in on the precision of language and its use, perhaps I should elaborate.

I am a hypocrite with a severe attention deficit. I am a personification, a living idiom, a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I should be the poster child for Starving Artists Anonymous. Thank goodness I have a day job!

So where HAVE I been and what HAVE I been doing that kept me so distracted since March? Well, there’s motherhood and family….there’s that end-of-the school year crunch to get everything graded and recorded (have I told you I’m a teacher?)…there were summer break and family vacation, during which time I...

--read voraciously!

--redesigned our family photo wall, culling out some old images and adding some newer, better ones.

--threw lots and lots and LOTS of tennis balls for Simon.

--tried to recall what I once knew at the piano.

--ran errands for my mother, who broke her leg on Mother’s Day Weekend.

--led a summer music camp for children at a nearby church (putting to use one of my long-lost talents).

---expanded my garden (adding several new beds)…and did a lot of research about pet-friendly plants. Perhaps I should offer up a few posts on what I learned and what I chose to plant (for those of you who have dogs like Simon)??? In the meantime though, the ASPCA has a wonderful website.


---planned my own funeral.

{insert audible gasps here}

Don’t be shocked! It actually makes perfect sense.

Neither my father, nor my brother, left wills or final wishes. My father’s lack of attention to such details left his five children stumbling and grasping. A rift emerged among us that may take years to heal. My brother’s death was sudden and unexpected.

My grandmother did leave a basic will, but there too emerged a cavern.

Compassion and my little sister’s request urged me forth. So I’ve begun to pen my wishes. I’ve given thought to service types and to the rudiments of divvying. I‘ve purchased a 2’x2’ piece of real estate under a magnificent Live Oak in South Carolina.

The whole process has been surprisingly reassuring. And.. I can finally say with all surety that I will retire some day on Hilton Head Island.

But I probably shouldn’t put “blogger” on my bronze marker. Not yet, anyway. Not yet.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

when all roads lead to Rome

As promised, it's time to begin telling you about my trip to Rome. It's a story unlike any other in my life, one that began years and years ago...before my daughter walked out of my life, before my son was conceived, before mortgages and marriage and college, before my first car and my first kiss.

Navigating this life hasn't always been easy.

I took wrong turns. I took short cuts.

Both got me lost.

So I chose the "safe" route and stuck with a "tried-and-true" path.

Then I took on traveling companions who had their own needs and ideas. I trusted other voices more than my own, and seeing that I was gaining ground, I kept my eyes fixed safely on the road ahead, my past fixed neatly in the rearview mirror.

Strangers might look at my life today and say I have "arrived" at a dream destination (a single marriage, two children, a house with a white picket fence, a station wagon)...and yes, I am truly, truly blessed!

But I lost much of myself along the way.

Some of me was left behind long ago. Some of me took a back seat to everyday marriage and motherhood. Some of me is a victim of assumptions, of assuming I can't without someone else's approval, of assuming I need companionship to do the things I want to do.

Then some things happened, things that forced me to rethink my life...and now that I've been to Rome, I know what I had only begun to suspect before -- something I could somehow feel...but couldn't quite speak...not yet.

All the roads in my life have led me to Rome. That was one trip I had to take...a trip that was as much about the journey as the destination, a trip I had to take alone.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hoppin' Here at the Holland House

Since my last post, things here have been "hoppin'."

My son missed a week of school with a nasty virus-turned-infection.

My daughter got married.

We went to the mountains for the weekend...which was perfectly lovely...until I came down with my own nasty virus...

...which was a real pisser...because being viral, my symptoms had to run their course. I did get a steroid shot...which seemed to help some...but I had only a few days to rest and recover before flying to Rome, Italy. Yes, Italy. And I went all by myself...though I'm sure Simon would have felt right at home exploring those cobbled-stone streets (and sniffin' some Italian tail).

In the following posts, I plan to tell you all about my trip...why I went, what I saw, what I ate, and what I learned along the way.

I hope you'll join me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

On Screaming and Silence and All that Jazz

I know, I know...I've been too quiet lately. But... I've been busy...and life got messy...and, and,...the squeaky wheel got the grease. The wheel, of course, was that freakin' mouse that invaded my pantry and taunted me from his perch of paper towels, laughing, laughing all the while...as I shivered with heebeejeebees and screamed like a mad woman, "Get out of my house, you stupid rat! Get out of my pantry!!!" Still...he sat there...c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y unphased. Mouse murder is an awful experience, eclipsed solely by the thought of mouse poo on my food.

But my pantry got a remodel. [:-D]

As for my silence? Honestly, I haven't wanted to name this which has kept me from posting. Words weigh heavily on my spirit, and putting this in print seems so finite, like a judgement, or a "sentence" of sorts.

Simon will likely develop hip dysplasia.

There it is.

I've said it.

I've finally allowed these fingers to declare that which my heart wishes most to ignore...but I can't ignore this anymore. Not really. Because Simon now takes fish oil capsules several times per day to prolong his joint health, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin (which may or may not help). So I am reminded of that dreadful possibility at least three times per day. And I am reminded every time he climbs up and down my stairs to empty his bladder and bowels...those damned, dreadful steps. If I could pick up my family and move to a ranch-style house on a flat lot (all money aside), I would. Truly. In a heartbeat.

So you see, I just couldn't update. I needed time to process. I need time to breathe in, to breathe out. I needed time to look at my previous post again and again and again, at that beautiful portrait, those poignant words, and to revel in that post's purity a while longer, to revel in the beauty, the surreal perfection of my relationship with Simon...untouched, unblemished...for just a little longer.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Devotion and Worth

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

- Unknown

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Days!

School has been out for two days due to snow...snow like we have not seen in Georgia since 1993, the year of the blizzard....but unlike '93, this year's snow has been perfectly lovely...with all the fun AND all the comforts: power and heat, warm food and running water.

All the snowfall, however, has this little guy visiting my porch every hour or so. I get to sit at my desk and watch him through my kitchen sheers while he flits about, stealing cat food crumbs. Simon has noticed these frequent visits too...and watches until he just can't stand the temptation any more. Then Simon whines and paws at the door, scaring away our feathery friend.

But watching our little scavenger isn't the only thing we've done...

My husband made an early morning snowman.

I went for a walk...

and took some snowy pics.

Yesterday, our snow was unusually powdery for this area. So my two-footed boys spent most of the day riding four wheelers and dirt bikes. Simon and I settled in for a warm day on the couch. Today, however, our snow is much wetter, which lends itself to better packing. It's been much quieter around here...

Simon discovered snowballs.

He loves chasing them, but loses them immediately when they hit the ground. It's hysterical to watch him dart across the yard and plunge his nose into the snow, rooting around for an object he knows he just saw land but can neither smell nor find. When Simon does catch one mid-air, they crumble into nothingness. That, perhaps is the sadder scenario, as it seems to truly disappoint Simon. You should see those sad shoulders slump.

The secret is to freeze them.

Frozen (freezer) snowballs hold up to a bit of weimy chewing, and make great "treats." Finally, Simon has something!!! Not sure I would use them for "fetch" though...

...and of course there's the usual snowman construction...

Leave it to an engineer to design a life-sized, square snowman. These guys spent a couple hours packing and shaving snow with a machete. Then, they broke out an electric saw, some spare wood, and black spray paint for the facial features and buttons. Now this is a man's snowman!

By the way,...
those arms are made out of aluminum arrows and hunting gloves.

Last but not least, a bit of whimsy!

That's Simon's nose print, turning my smiley face into a face sticking out its tongue. Simon's such a Nosy Parker! Literally.


Update: School has already been cancelled for tomorrow. That makes three days out of school so far...a big deal for "this neck of the woods." 2011 is already proving to be a memorable year!

Monday, January 10, 2011

One Year!!!

I am proud to say that Simon Says is a year old today!
Thank you to all who visit.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

on wisdom

"All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers is contained in the dog."

- Kafka

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Remembering 2010

It’s 2011 now, and while I find myself excited about all the possibilities ahead, I’m sad to see 2010 go. 2010 was a good year for me, a year of acceptance and healing, a year of self-discovery and personal growth, a year of new beginnings.

After all, I started Simon Says in 2010. I wish I could say that I joined the ranks of bloggers and never lost momentum, but I can’t. I started. I wrote a few posts. I went through a phase of self-doubt and silence. Finally, I chose courage and gained momentum. I’ll call 2010 the year of “finding my voice” and 2011 the year of “finding my rhythm” here on Simon Says.

I also accepted Karen Walrond’s Beauty of Different self-portrait challenge. I spent twenty-eight days photographing myself…and using each image as an opportunity to discover what makes me differently beautiful. What an experience! It was fun turning the camera on myself…a little unnerving at times, but fun…thrilling even. I am not Hollywood beautiful, nor am I model material. But I am beautiful….differently beautiful. I see that now, thanks to Karen and her challenge.

I even took my first photography workshop and joined our local museum’s photography guild.

But enough about me…

Simon has grown into a full-sized weim, but he is still very much a puppy. He still whines e-a-r-l-y in the morning to be let out of his kennel. He still chews and destroys with no regard for human, sentimental attachment or monetary value. He begs to be noticed. He begs for treats. He begs for his evening scoops of kibble. He refuses to be ignored and uses his big, behemoth body to levy his demands.

-photograph taken by my son with iPhone

Here Simon is demanding I take a break from photo editing. He's wormed his way into my desk chair, his most recent antic. I am so ridiculously in love with this mutt. But then, those of you who have been following Simon Says already know that.

Happy 2011!