Thursday, October 23, 2008

Well, Miss Tina Turner was all that and more last night down at Arco Arena in Sacramento. (http://www.livedaily.com/blog/2810.html click link for some terrifics photos; unfortunately hyperlink not available. )It was an elegant show, born of 50 years in rock and roll, that blew the doors off the joint holding 15,000 roaring, dancing, talking sass with TINA fans, alive with the joy and the serenity that these days is Tina Turner.

There was a fabulous array of glittery, glitzy, sexy, sexy costumes that were, in the final analysis, nothing but elegant. Her hair was new and all Tina: edgy, raw and feminine. She's lost her dance moves but still prowls the stage with the elegance of a ballet dancer, wearing four inch Jimmy Choos at the end of legs not not even time dares to compromise. But it's her music and her songs, her pure expression that stands as Mozart in the face of everything else to come that stirs and churns my soul still. Tina Turner is that brave, joyous person that still exists in us all. After all this time. Fifty years!

She opened both set with Beatles songs--unusual moments for Tina Turner fans-- and in the second set gave great props to the Stones, her road buddies from the early days. She flashed photos of her career above the stage and was generous in her acknowledgment of Ike despite their abusive marriage. Her spirit is so round, so full, so complete now it becomes the perfect platter to serve her music up on, this driving, edgy, soulful music that has a big bad range, still. She can reach down into her deep, bluesy gut and deliver the gritty brutal honesty of many of life's lonelier moments with "And this ain't how I thought it'd be" and then stare off into the second balcony and deliver "I don't care who's right or wrong" in a manner with sweetness and softness that makes you turn to the person sitting next to you and apologize for everything and beg for forgiveness, even though you've never met them. This girl has the music of lifetimes and lifetimes and lifetimes.

I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the dancers. She went with the one year olds. The fillies, all legs and manes. They were awesome. The ninjas, the boys dancers, came along for the ride, too. Justice from American Gladiators was riding shotgun to keep an eye on the ninjas. Great Cirque du Soleil 'Love' - type moments with the wild, rowdy guys with crazy moves smacking into the brick wall of authority in the incredibly flexible, agile, hulking stone pillar that is Justice. Dance sequences were fabulous. Band was hard driving, superb guitar and nothing but rock and roll.

It was a night for the Best Ofs book that I will surely write someday. It was a night that I never could have imagined when I first danced to Tina and Ike after study table back at the Pi Phi house down in Moscow, Idaho. It was a night I will imagine again and think about again and again; with complete joy and serenity. Still.


JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

Monday, October 20, 2008


Had a few more shots of summer that I've been saving. These are a few of my personal favorites. The white hydrangea is for Mrs. Roosevelt; pinky, right? Really pinky.

JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWa

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Forgot this one!
JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA


Monday, October 13, 2008


Did I forget to mention I was in Aspen?
JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Woke up early this morning and thought about our friend Ira. Ira owns a personnel agency and places people in temporary positions and finds other people permanent jobs, as well. Yesterday, a woman from his Temple called and asked if he would find her a job. She's 80 years old.

Seems she and her husband, who is not well, have a annuity that now has become worthless or at least is no longer paying out. So she needs a job to support her sick husband and asked Ira to help her find one.

We have a guy at work who came to us this time last year. He was on his wife's medical plan and decided to keep it. He developed a medical issue this spring that allows him to still work, with interludes off for surgery, but he has handsful and handsful and handsful of unpaid medical invoices at the moment. Their family, two children, is really struggling and he is desperate for more hours or any other consideration I could give him. I told him he didn't need more hours or another raise, but rather a loan. Or a gift of cash. He said he couldn't take that from me. I groaned and sighed and now watch him work all kinds of hours he is not physically up to and do work that he is far over-trained and over-experienced for. He never, ever complains about physical pain or humiliation. I do not know how to help him. How to make his burden less or his life easier. When school started, I gave him a Costco gift card. He was aghast. He said, This is 3 months of Costco shopping for us. Thank you. I was afraid he was starting to cry, so I dipped back out of his doorway and zipped up the hall. Physical pain I can endure. Emotional pain in someone else I am utterly no good at.

I finished a tax return this week that I have been working on since May. It was difficult, complex, with several interwoven transactions that leave room for contradictory interpretations of the law that have great propensity for pinning my ears back. But I don't think we'll get an audit notice. I'm confident I nailed it. All of it. It was very hard and when it was signed and the interview was over, I sat back in my chair, with my door shut, and listened to the quiet. It was like a long term house guest had left. The return was 151 pages. I was not relieved, but rather happy. I worked in depth in areas that I practice to extent I never have before. The laws have changed and there are new laws. This was very, very tough. I was happy to get and mount a new mega-challenge. I do not dislike things that are hard.

But I think what is coming up in our society is going to be so hard; so really hard and I am afraid I will not be able to cope with the pain out there that people are having and will have. I see and hear so many startling things everyday now. There's the obvious financial pain but as well, people are so mean to each other. They say incredibly mean things about other people in making political points and there is bona fide enjoyment at others' misfortunes. I know they are suffering on some level and that it's the pain that talks. I know that.

But I don't know how to help. And that for me, is really hard. And I am afraid.


JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I myself am embarking on a new quest. You remember when I finished the Portland Marathon and when I rode my bike from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, Viet Nam. I cannot tell you exactly why I decided to marathon in Oregon and bike in a third world country, but I did; I did decide to do these things and I did do these things and consider each of these experiences highlights of my life. I am not athletic; not coordinated; not experienced; not a typical contender. But I love it nevertheless; and somehow I am compelled to do it. No telling why that is.

This time my quest will take me from Coast to Coast. I will walk the width of England, though the north of England. Starting in St. Bee's at the Irish Sea, down through the Lake District; across the Yorkshire Dales, on over the Yorkshire Moors and then drop into the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay. Two hundred miles on foot. The route will be panoramic, spectacular, daunting and unforgettable. I will be doing the equivalent of a half-marathon every day for two weeks. Why am I doing this? The best answer I can come up with is this: because I can.


This time the quest will be quite different than before. I will have a partner. He will train with me and will walk with me. In the rain, through the holidays, in and out of busy times at work, over birthdays, anniversaries and funerals. Weaving the preparation for making my goal in and out of the everydays of life will find me with my buddy, my partner, my new co-conspirator. That will be quite different. He has never been to the UK.


He is athletic, accomplished and the age of my children. He is talky, sexy, quite good-looking; pretty much everything that I am not. He invited himself; in a startling moment that left me flat-footed, he penciled himself in on my quest. Why would he do this?


Turns out that like me, he is high-challenge. Like me, he is quintessentially curious. Like me, he works everyday at getting better. Like me, he's just trying to understand. Like me, he doesn't often meet people like himself.


Sam tells me that I am tough, (rugged?) and competitive. That is odd to me because I do not see myself in those terms at all. Rather I see myself as a good listener; a cream puff; a bookworm; a person you can rely on when you really need to. But I do admit that my children, who are all superb, accomplished athletes, get their mental game from me and the determination to win from me.


So there it is, I guess. I just wonder how old you have to be before the self-discovery in your life is over? Self-awareness is so overrated in my playbook. I'm only trying to get better.




JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, October 04, 2008


With all due respect to Raymond Pert


JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWa
Ended up going to the cage fight last night downtown. Really wasn't such a round about way I got tickets and planned on going , either. But nevertheless, when I found myself on the sidewalk in a long line that started at the door, people ALL around me smoking; me the only one without tattoos; and with no previous cage fight t-shirt of any kind; I knew I was on another adventure where people were speaking American English but I was a foreigner nevertheless.

It started almost immediately when four beefy guys came up and cut in front of me in line. I thought about it for five seconds, then lightly touched the lead guy's elbow and said in a firm voice, hey, what the hell do you think YOU'RE doing? He, and his boys, all turned around and just looked at me. I held my line, on my square on the sidewalk on Sprague Avenue in downtown The Kan EWA, wearing my black levis and my Black Dog Tavern Martha's Vineyard t-shirt, clutching my Prada handbag and wearing my Cole Haan shoes. Then I said in a much louder voice, the END OF THE LINE is back THERE! jabbing over my shoulder with my thumb.

He said well, it doesn't really make any difference. I said, louder yet, WELL IT SURE DOES TO ME. YOU NEED TO GET DOWN HERE EARLIER IF YOU WANT TO GET RIGHT IN. As I now had the attention of every man, woman and child for a two block radius, I held his gaze; wide-eyed and with just a hint of authority. One of his boys broke before he did, turned and trundled towards the back of the line so they all followed and trooped back down the sidewalk around the corner and down to the end of the block to take their place in line, their little shoulders slumped, their little cigarettes laying on the chests in their mouths and their little pierces hid in their coat collars.

People behind me applauded; man two groups ahead of me said Well done! I said, to no one in particular, anything else I need to get taken care of before we go to the cage fight tonight? Smart ass Cougar fan in front of me said, looks like the fights is right here on the sidewalk. I said, sweetly, if you want, I can kick your ass, too. Then smiled brilliantly at him. His buddies all snickered and snickered and he said, no I'm doing okay. I said Well, GOOD. We all are doing okay. And turned around and nodded, wide-eyed at the people behind me. They both winked at me.

End of Round I. I'm standing.

So they check my ID at the door and issue me a wrist band and with earnestness and sincerity, tell me I must show the band to the bartender and to the bouncers at the fight arena door to get in and out. They knew I had no idea what I was doing. I'm guessing that CC TV showed the near melee I was able thwart out on the sidewalk and they probably just wanted to take really good care of me. See that I had everything I needed. Right.

I get in the place finally, though a series of ramps and corners winding through ever more darkened hallways and such and finally show my ticket at the door of the fight arena to a guy who I assume, you have to love me, will show me to my seat. He stopped short of saying, whaddya you? think this is fucking 42nd and Broadway? But he did say Lemme stamp your wristband and you move on and find your own seat; it's over there. Then HE jabbed over HIS shoulder with HIS thumb. Without looking at me. Clearly, the legend of my sidewalk bravery hadn't reached him. So I whispered riiiiight, got the heck of his way, scrambled through the doorway and started reading pieces of tape on the floor with numbers and letters on them. In so many different ways, this was not the Shubert Theatre.

End of Round II. I'm still standing.

I actually have a really good seat and look up to see the banner of the major sponsor: 1-800-Not-Guilty Attorneys at Law. Suuuuuper. I have come to take pictures and can see, amazingly enough, that I am sitting in a seat with an uber-advantage as the fighters will walk out of the dressing room into the fight arena right to me, turn exactly in front of me, then walk the rest of the way to go into the cage. Whoa, Baby. Tonight is my night. The lighting is tricky, as the ceilings are high, the walls and the floors are black, there are blue and red gels everywhere, they are firing off rounds of smoke for aura, and I don't really know what I am doing with my camera so I spend the next half hour test firing around 100 frames to get what I want to get good shots out of the dressing room, in the crowd and into the cage, and in the cage. Okay, I'm ready. Still standing, too.

So the smokes billows upward, the X-Box music cranks, the flames ignite and out walks Sam. He's going with the Rocky look, sweat jacket on with the hood up. He hears the crowd and immediately comes to life. He spreads his arms in a high blessing, feeding off the crowd's delight and smiles widely and in promise and enters the cage. The door slams shut and locks. uh, God. I move up by the cage, trying to get a good picture of him as he loosens up, flexing his huge shoulders to his music and the roar of the crowd. He dances in places and stretches and flexes and stretches and flexes and I can't get focus because the light is random and screwy and he is stretching his neck with his chin in his chest. Finally he lifts his face up, into the spot far above his head, the light flooding his body, his face full of apprehension but determination, only I don't get the shot. I'm adjusting my e/v comp at the time. right. Sam was actually booed when he came into the fight arena and now he's booed again as he's introduced. WTH? He's never fought before. His opponent is a four-time winner. Clearly, enough is not enough even if you're a four-time winner. Gotta boo the new guy.

Sam mentioned in the week previous to the fight that while his defense is sturdy, his offense isn't always lightning fast and he's working on being opportunistic, being sure, being deadly. He says that his real disadvantage going into his first cage fight is his lack of wrestling experience. Most fighters are veterans of high school and college wrestling. I say I bet his relentless training in ju jitsu, kickboxing, boxing and his compulsive cardio routines of the last year will make him a contendah. Sam says his job is to go in low and get the guy down. And if he can do that, he'll be ok. Sam's analysis of his weakness and strength proves out in the first minute. He is defensively spot on. The Booing People Guy can't get a shot at Sam's face or a shot at Sam's ribs. Can't find a way to take him down either. But when Sam gets the guy against the cage and goes in high to drag him down, like greased lightning, the guy goes for Sam's unprotected waist, dumb ass move on your part, Sam! and takes Sam down in a nanosecond. oh nooooooo.

Amazing but Sam fights his way out; the same scenario repeats itself over the first round and into the second. The Booing People Guy is now throwing air punches and makes an unathletic, feeble kick move. Sam grabs his little footsie, drags his sorry butt down and punches him for dear life. Punches him and punches him and punches him. The crowd is roaring SAM, SAM, SAM. Suddenly the refs violently yank Sam off the guy and drag him to the other corner Sam still kicking and swinging; the other ref anxiously kneels over the Booing People Guy, now permanently affixed to the bottom of the cage; then the first refs on a swift, slight signal from the other ref raise Sam's arms in the air. SAM WINS!

The crowd goes wild, the X-Box music explodes and we all lapse into kisses, hugs and tears. Sam is made to do just this as he basks in the heat of the lights, glistening in sweat, scratches and bruises, with head thrown back, fists high in the air in victory. This is his moment and in a flash, in a panorama splashed over the cage, I can see the entire excruciating training and sacrifice he has undergone in search of his own adventure, on his own private quest that would prove to be an ultimate challenge. This is been a singular, solitary, and lonely for him. And he wins. IMpressive.

The Master of Ceremonies actually interviews Sam after the medal ceremony about how he beat this guy, whom he apparently knocked out cold. Sam goes into his pre-fight strategy about getting in low and dragging the guy down but says, generously, the guy was too good to allow me to do that so Sam says, I just went for any piece of him and kept punching. And that's true. Sam's offense was clumsy and ill-timed but when he found a piece, he went to work.

Life never turns out the way you think it will, or the way you plan, but the people who prevail prepare prodigiously and then just start punching for dear life when they need to.

The Master of Ceremonies says, So we'll be seeing you back here, right? NOPE, says Sam. I love my wife too much; this is all for me. Turns out the real prize is wisdom, gleaned in solitary moments of fighting hard.

I hope to have an outcome with good pictures like Sam got in cage fighting; but I know I have to work harder and figure out better ways to get better shots. But I was inspired down there on Sprague Avenue last night; and I tell you all this to encourage you to find your own inspiration; watch for a hero that you know, take a few
lessons and then keep punching. Just keep punching.



JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA